Tag Archives: business

Why is “I’m Sorry” So Difficult?

It’s not for me. But I’ve known some people for years who have never been able to voice their apology. Is it because they can’t admit they made a mistake? Or because, whatever it was, was not their fault and therefore, they felt their apology wasn’t warranted? Are they just being stubborn? Egotistical? Insecure?

I’ve always looked at it as an empathy issue. If someone feels slighted or fibbed to or is the victim of some injustice, I, in turn, feel bad for them and sympathize with them, whether or not it has anything to do with me. That gives the “victim’s” feelings—validation, which is usually all they want. I’m not talking about the “constant complainer.” Some people aren’t happy unless they are miserable. I’ve known those kinds of people, too. I’m referring to us average, everyday folks.

We’ve all heard, “The customer is always right” in a business situation and businesses try to satisfy their customers as much as is reasonable in order to keep them happy. Most of the time this is still true in today’s world.

Recently, I had two separate incidences where appointments were made for someone to do some work in my home on certain days. Not only did both workmen not show up, they never bothered to call to explain why. I had cancelled my plans so I could be available those days and I waited and waited all day, both days for them. Do you think I had the justification to be annoyed? I certainly do. And in both instances, I was not contacted the next day, either, for an explanation. I had to call them to find out when they would be coming. I was angry by that time. I did get an explanation, finally, but I didn’t feel I got a proper apology for either instance.

To me, that kind of behavior is unprofessional. Period. How long does it take to make a phone call? A whole minute, perhaps? To me there is no excuse for not calling. None.

I may have made a mistake in bringing this slight to the attention of one of the bosses of a business. The danger of complaining is that it sometimes makes people angry with you and could result in, any work left to do, getting done in a rushed manner without regard to quality care. So what is a customer to do? Keep quiet and feel abused? Say something and hope the boss will care enough to make sure it never happens again?

My instinct tells me that the boss I spoke with does care and wants me to be happy. What has been an exciting and delightful experience, has tried to morph itself into a worry for me, but I have decided to be my usual positive self and believe all will turn out perfectly.

On another note, I apologize to you dear reader for not continuing this month with my remodel series of blogs. I have been faux painting my Grecian columns and they have taken longer than expected. Next month, I promise, I’ll have pictures of my spectacular new master bathroom. Hope you’ll tune it then.

Comments?

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Filed under life, musings

Loyalty

Have you noticed that a characteristic such as loyalty seems to have vanished in our modern day world? It is a tragic loss if it can not be revived. Companies no longer seem to care about their employees and employees change jobs for a few dollars more in a pay packet.
In my parents and grandparents day, people got a job with a company, worked their way up the ladder and for the most part retired from that company after many years of loyal service. This is an out of date notion. Workers, for the most part, are no longer loyal to one employer. In recent times, there are those who job hop, hoping that the new company will offer better pay and benefits. Or they may play one company off the other to negotiate the best deal. However, this is not so prevalent anymore with the job market what it is now.
Employers do not encourage loyalty in their workers like they did once upon a time.
A friend of mine gave a company fifteen years of service and loyalty. Then she was let go along with three others from this same company. There were no satisfactory explanations for their terminations; just good-bye with no severance, no references and few prospects in the job market today. There are not many openings for jobs on that same managerial level.
Another friend recounted to me that her company wants people to start sharing more of their responsibilities because the company wants to eliminate numerous jobs. They have not said what jobs, or which employees will be released, so the sword of Damocles hangs over them all. The company also has offered early retirement sweet deals that are available to the first fifty of the one hundred and fifty that are eligible. Even with retiring fifty people, they still will cut jobs.
Another horrifying item that surfaced about this company: someone distributed a book about ~ how to treat employees so poorly that they quit, leaving the company without having to pay the unemployment fees.
I wonder what is happening in our world.
Where is loyalty?
I remember a story my dad told me about a friend and client of his.
Mr. Lubin loved to bake, and he was good at it. His hobby blossomed into a small business as he took over the family kitchen. Soon the demands for his baked goods grew, and he moved his enterprise to the garage. Orders came in consistently allowing him to first rent, then later to purchase a building of his own to keep up with the growing demand.
In the process of his expansion from the kitchen to the garage he needed proper packaging for his goods. He called a number of companies and met with their salesmen. He had a specific package in mind. No supplier had it readily available. The salesmen told him that his demands could not be met. His order would be too small to make it worth their while. Except for one young man who needed to establish himself with his company. He said it would be worth a try. He would do what he could to fill the order. A week later the man returned with what they company could do for Mr. Lubin. The men shook on the order, and the salesman got the ball rolling to create the packaging Mr. Lubin wanted.
Mr. Lubin’s business grew and grew over the years allowing him to build his own building to make all his bakery products. As his fame and fortune grew, the salesmen from the companies that told him he was too small to bother with began to come back, they offered sweet deals, they undercut the price of that first salesman who had taken the risk with Mr. Lubin’s order.
Mr. Lubin would simply smile; shake his head and say; “No thanks.” He let them know that he was remaining loyal to the man who had been with him from the early days. That the salesman who had had taken the risk to create his packaging needs deserved his loyalty.
Another facet of his loyalty was his constant ability to keep his promises. Mr. Lubin did business on a handshake and his word. His word was his bond. He did not need contracts or signatures. He never reneged on an agreement, if he told you something was going to be done, it was.
Mr. Lubin was also a devoted family man. We all have at some time heard of his company, many of us have enjoyed his products. He named his company for his daughter, because after all; Nobody doesn’t love Sarah Lee.
In this world where loyalty, honesty and keeping a promise means nothing, I am reminded of Mr. Lubin and his principals. An honest, hardworking man who built a multi-billion dollar business from something he loved to do. Mr. Lubin was a man who remained loyal to those who were with him from the earliest days, believing in him, in his product and his abilities. Loyalty was rewarded ten-fold.
My father spoke of Mr. Lubin with admiration and respect. I hope his story will empower you to take a look at where your loyalties lie, and create a better world, because you become a better person. Loyalty is a dying virtue. We can revive it by being loyal. I’m in…are you?

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Writing is Business

Writer Wordart

Avon Books, a division of the Hearst Corporation, published my first novel in 1978. Before that my agent had sold several of my short stories and I thought I was a writer. Then other things took over and for almost 30 years writing was set aside.

Five years ago I decided to go back to writing and I would approach it as my job. With every job there is a boss and an employee. The problem with this job is that the boss and the employee are the same person. The role of the boss is to set the criteria for satisfactory performance. As the boss I demanded that my employee spend a minimum of 7 hours a day, five days a week at the job of writing. The employee had to spend at least 4 hours a day writing and produce at least 2500 words which ever came later. The remaining time each day could be spent researching material and thinking about another book. As the employee I am very lucky in that I can be working on two or three totally different stories at the same time.

After three years of writing I had material I thought was ready and I started looking for an agent. My former agent had died and no one there, or at any other agency, wanted to handle me. Obviously I was going to have to find a publisher on my own. That’s where Preditors and Editors came in.

With Preditors and Editors the research becomes finding a publisher that publishes your kind of material. The agent is one who is supposed to know what different publishers are looking for. Now it is up to the writer to find someone who likes what he has written.

About the writing itself. I have heard people talk about “writer’s block.” I don’t know what that is. As I mentioned earlier I am usually working on two or three different books at the same time. I may arrive at work in the morning and decide that I want to work on a murder mystery or an adventure story rather than a historical or romance novel. My boss is quite agreeable to this as long as I put in my hours and produce the required number of words. To me the excuse of “writer’s block” is the employee calling in sick because I want to do something else that day. However, my boss is quite willing for me to take a Tuesday or some other day off as long as I make it up on Saturday or Sunday.

I never suffer from “writer’s block” but there are times when I want to say something and I am not sure exactly how to say. That is not “writers block” but a question of method. When that happens I go to my exercises. When a pianist, or violinist or other performing artist cannot render a passage they way they would like to, they goes back to the basic exercises.

For me the exercise is this. – The four basic parts to every story are: the characters (people, dogs, birds, whatever), the action (conflict), the setting (where the action takes place) and the theme (the message you want to convey – good triumphs over evil, or whatever).

There are also four basic ways of telling the story: exposition (stating the information – that’s the worst method. That’s how textbooks are written and that is why they are so boring),  Narrative description (drawing word pictures for the reader), introspection (thoughts – stream of consciousness) and dialogue (two or more people talking).

I know where the story is going, I just may not know how I want to say it. Then is when I go to the exercises. Let’s say there is a character. Am I going to describe him from an omniscient point of view – using narrative description? Or maybe describe him by having two other characters talk about him – using dialogue. Or from the point of view of someone just thinking about him – using introspection. Well you get the idea. A little while in the exercise room and I pretty much know how I want to say it.

Happy Writing.

Paul’s Books – The Telephone Killer to be released 9/15/12 by Second Wind Publishing.

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Filed under books, fiction, writing

Dear Emily

For nearly a year, I have had the opportunity to spend a large amount of time working on “Dear Emily: A Memoir ~ My Life in the Fine Stores”.  At the age of 89, Louise Thomas is a spunky woman of the world, living on her own in her beautiful home and taking on new challenges every day. She was also a trend-setter, paving the way for women in the executive world. Not only was her executive world male-dominated, but it was also largely family operated and almost always enjoyable.

Starting out in the department stores of New York in the 1940s, Louise experienced decades of social and economic change, not only in the evolution and decline of the fabulous shopping world, but in the world as a whole as she traveled across continents as a buyer and eventually for enjoyment.

The following excerpt from her memoir gives a glimpse of the New York department stores at their peak:

One April morning, a well-dressed lady stopped by the handkerchief department to purchase an all-over embroidered linen handkerchief for one dollar, asked to have it gift-wrapped, cashed a check for $100 so that she would have lunch money, and requested to have her full-length black mink coat sent to her Park Avenue address. She would be meeting a friend for lunch at Club 21. The temperature had risen which made her long coat a bother. Every detail was met within minutes, accompanied by a smile and a “thank you”.

Sadly, service like that doesn’t exist anymore. 

Ivey's Department store, Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, 1924

Another excerpt brings the reader into a world surviving under less security and less scrutiny.


Dear Emily,

I wish you could have been with me on Thursday, January 28, 1965. I did a full day’s work at the office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and then caught an evening flight to Newark and a helicopter to Kennedy airport for an 8 a.m. flight to London. We were scheduled to begin our spring buying trip in Rome, but at the last minute, we were able to switch our destination from Rome to London to attend the funeral of Winston Churchill. 

To the strains of Handel’s “Dead March”, the cortège entered first Parliament Street and on to Whitehall. Here stood hundreds of veterans from the European resistance, French, Belgians, Dutch, Danes, and Norwegians. Their survivors dipped their flags to the man whose voice had brought them hope. Next, the procession passed a house with two outside lights burning, No. 10 Downing St, passed the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Square, up Fleet Street headed toward Ludgate Hill where we were fortunate to have front row positions not far from the massive cathedral. Everywhere one looked, there were people and more people all with one purpose—to honor their fallen hero, their protector.

The cortège carried the flag-wrapped casket up the narrow street—no more than five or six feet from us. Behind followed the veil-draped Lady Churchill and her daughter, Sarah. They were riding in the Queen’s carriage on loan from the owners. The creeping carriage stopped immediately in front of us. We could easily have touched the carriage. It was that close. We were a block away from the cathedral.

Louise also gives us an idea of what happened to the glorious days of service:

Dear Emily,

Does it all make sense now? So what really happened to a fine institution, born in Europe, perfected in America, and all but extinct in little more than one century? There is no simple answer.

Louise’s account of her life in the fine stores, speckled with tales of her adventurous travel and insights into business, history, and day-to-day life during the past eighty years is presented as letters and pictures to her lifelong friend Emily. I encourage readers to settle in for a trip into the past as they read Dear Emily: A Memoir ~ My Life in the Fine Stores. I’m glad I took the trip. I now have memories of Louise and the fine stores that I will never forget.

See also: Woman Writes of How She Did it Her Way in Heyday of Downtown Business

~Tracy Beltran is the Administrator for Second Wind Publishing. She also writes as Claire Collins and her books, Fate and Destiny,  and Images of Betrayal are available from http://www.secondwindpublishing.com, as well as a variety of e-book applications, Amazon, and Kindle.  Grab a copy of Louise’s Dear Emily while you’re there.

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Filed under books, writing