Small Business Marketing – Giving is GOOD For Business

You’ve heard all the phrases about the virtues of giving, many with Biblical origins. You may even have experienced moments of selfless giving yourself that manifested in tremendous opportunities coming back to you. I love to give and I must say it’s always a wonderful surprise to see what comes back.One instance stands out for me because of the impact it had on my business. Last year I went the extra mile to help a stranger who walked into my office complex seeking assistance. Afterwards, he was so thankful for the generosity, he took me to lunch and it turned out he represented a prominent business contact for me and I have since benefitted personally and financially from this relationship…very effortlessly I might add because I initiated the “giving.” Giving is good all around, anonymously or otherwise, and is especially good for business. Here’s part of my formula for success.1. Establish some type of charitable giving modelAlign yourself with a local or national charity that would be representative of your industry and or target market. If you work with kids, then consider charities that support education, Toys for Tots, provide clothing, etc. Earmark a small percentage of your profits or a fixed dollar amount to the organization and let others know you’re supporting this group. You may also want to co-sponsor events and fundraising drives that are mutually beneficial. Besides being a good thing to do, you’ll receive more attention from the media and clients love it as well.2. Give to your customersConsider establishing a unique rewards program for existing customers and make them aware of the fact they’re getting something special. Could be a tangible item, additional services, or special discounts. It should be done “just because” and will not only build loyalty but may also inspire your customers to refer more often. There are companies I pay higher prices to for that very reason.3. Give to your prospective customersOffer something for free to prospects to immediately establish a positive energy flow and to allow them to experience you in a positive way prior to making a purchase. If you can impress them before they do business with you, chances are you’ll manifest a loyal customer when they’re ready.4. Give to your communityConsider positioning yourself as a giver in the community by hosting networking events, hosting online discussion boards, providing a free service that would benefit all, etc. Consider the popularity of a vet who opens a dog park next to his office practice. You can achieve instant celebrity status in the community and will experience an effortless flow of customers at your door.

Developing Original Humor for Your Talk

Most humor in the business setting is unplanned. It just happens. Spontaneous events with clients and co-workers create the surprises and uncomfortable situations which call for humor as a coping tool.We all have differing abilities to recognize, appreciate and create humor. How’s your HQ (humor quotient)? Do you work with people who are full of wit?Regardless of where you are now, you can increase your humor skills. When you study humor, it’s obvious there’s more to it than just spontaneous laughs. There are times when you may want to deliberately use humor, maybe even plan it in advance.Perhaps you want to spice up a training session or a planning meeting. Maybe you want to lighten up a sales presentation. You can learn ways to administer a dose of laughter to help you connect and communicate.There are three elements which can help you understand and structure your humor: surprise, tension and relationships.
First, humor is based on the element of surprise. Humor often comes from something as simple as someone saying the unexpected. The surprise twist creates the humor.Because of the element of surprise, when we are deliberately structuring a piece of humor (perhaps for a speech) we don’t want to telegraph the joke. A line like, “a funny thing happened to me on the way over here,” signals your listeners that a joke is coming. This will lessen the element of surprise.To enhance the surprise, it’s best to place the punch line at the end of the joke. And within the punch line, the punch word is usually given last. The punch word is the word that makes the humor work. It’s the trigger that releases the surprise.If your humor falls flat, do what professional humorists do. Pretend you are serious. Since the listeners didn’t realize you were making a joke, you never need to apologize or explain it. Turn your surprise into a secret.

It’s no surprise to people who work in pressure-packed work environments that humor is also based on this second principle: release of tension. Laughter is a pressure valve which releases muscle tension. Uncomfortable situations, fear and pain are all tension builders that cry out for humor. We find ourselves laughing at risqué humor and embarrassing situations because they make us uncomfortable. We release the tension they create with humor.People who intentionally and frequently use humor know tension can be used deliberately to heighten the impact of the humor. A pause placed just before the punch line or the punch word builds a sense of anticipation, a form of tension, which makes the joke stronger.In most jobs, daily challenges give you the opportunity to purposely use tension in setting up your humor. Simply by sharing a real life humorous situation, you can recreate the spontaneous circumstances which generated the laughter in the first place. Although there’s nothing like “being there,” you can improve on the actual event by embellishing to create a little more tension in the set up. You can structure the punch line for maximum effect by putting the punch word last. And you can pause to add impact.As we plan our humor, we also notice that the third principle of humor is relationships. Most humor is based on how things are related and not related. We can create humorous twists when we play with relationships.Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoons are well known for twisting relationships. One of his frequent tools is giving animals human characteristics. For example, the cartoon shows a car driving down the road. Driving the car is a bull. Sitting next to the bull is a cow. And in the back seat is a calf. They’re driving past a field with humans standing in the pasture. The picture, by itself, creates a funny picture by twisting the normally expected relationships. The calf sticks his head out of the car window and says “Yakity, Yakity, Yak!”Understanding the principle of relationships, you are able to create your own, original humor. You can create “shopping lists” from which you search for humorous connections.Let’s say you had an idea for building some humor. We’ll call this idea a seed from which the humor can grow. Perhaps, on a difficult shift at a hospital, someone made a comment that working in a hospital was like working in a war zone. This is the starting point for developing some humor.You’ll begin by creating two “shopping lists.” On one list you’ll put “hospital things.” And on the other, you’ll list “military things.” It will work better if you choose “military” rather than “war zone” because it’s a broader category which will give you more options when looking for relationships.Your first step is to brainstorm by making the lists as long a possible. The more items you have on each list, the more likely you’ll be able to make some humorous connections.As you make your lists, you’ll look for opportunities to branch out and create sublists to multiply your chances of finding humor. For example, if the idea “basic training” comes to mind, your sublist should contain everything you can think of relating to basic training: drill sergeants, marching, inspections.The next step is to search for connections between your two lists which might lead you to humor. Play with it. Then set it aside and come back to it later. Once you find something with humorous possibilities, you’ll massage it to maximize the humor impact.

To see what this exercise might produce:”Why a Hospital is Like the Military.”1. In the military, soldiers take orders from people with silver and gold on their shoulders. In a hospital, nurses take orders from people with silver and gold in their wallets.2. When discharged from the hospital after a Lower GI Series, you get the GI bill.3.,Nurses, like soldiers, see a lot of privates.4.mWhen filling out a hospital shift report, you sometimes resort to the policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”5. Nurse training is like boot camp. Never before had you seen so many bald body parts.6. In the military, a fatigue is what you wear. In nursing, it’s what wears on you.7. Soldiers get combat pay. Nurses don’t…but should.Whether you’re creating a list or a slogan to go on a poster, looking for a monologue to open a speech or training session, or just searching for one joke to make a point, you can use these lists to create your humor. It works.These three principles of humor are illustrated by the classic slip on the banana peel. The slapstick spill illustrates surprise because we weren’t expecting someone to fall. We also experience tension. When we see someone get hurt we get startled, and react with tension. It also twists relationships. Seeing a distinguished person sitting on the sidewalk is something our of the ordinary. Surprise, tension, relationships…we laugh!Natural, spontaneous humor is one of your greatest tools for coping with stress as you work. By understanding what makes the humor tick, you can become better at planning and deliberately using this powerful adjunct to your success arsenal.

Still More Anomalies: Another Top Baker’s Dozen

You may not be happy with the world as it is, but at least it’s orderly and makes logical sense. Walk, don’t walk, green yellow red; money trickles in, money flows out; friends and politicians come and go, enemies and stuff accumulate; the sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes; people are born, people die; the days, weeks, months, seasons. and years come and go with regularity. But dig a bit deeper beneath the surface and the world and the cosmos it inhabits, is one anomalous place.THE BIG BANG EVENT: This is no doubt a concept that nearly everyone has heard about, and swallowed hook, line and cosmological sinker because scientists present this creation of the Universe scenario as fact. It’s not fact; just the most viable theory of many theories and it has serious flaws. The accepted theoretical account of the creation or event that kick-started our Universe off not only has that event a something that created all of matter and energy, but all of time and space as well, and this creation event, to boot, all took place in a volume less than that of a pinhead (something in the realm of the quantum) and for no apparent reason at all. First there was nothing; then there was something. Wow!At best observations that support this are indirect being made some 13.7 billion years after-the-fact. Those indirect observations that provide evidence for the Big Bang event are the fact that the Universe is expanding; the Universe has a temperature – the remnants from the hot Big Bang called the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) and the amounts and ratio of hydrogen to helium. In reality there are no direct observations as nobody was present at Ground Zero all those billions of years ago.There are really a couple of anomalies present in the standard Big Bang account. 1) You have a violation of causality – something (space, time, matter and energy) created from nothing which is a violation of several conservation laws or relationships. 2) You have a violation of pure common sense that tells you that you can not stuff the contents of the entire Universe into the realm of the quantum, something actually way less in volume in fact than a pinhead. If that’s not anomalous, I don’t know what is!SPEED OF LIGHT: The anomaly here is that in any other scenario, velocities can be added and subtracted, except the velocity that’s known as the speed of light. Within Relativity Theory, if there is anything unintuitive it is the fact that in the entire Universe, it is the speed of light alone that is absolute or fixed, not something like space or time. It’s unintuitive in that all other bits and pieces that are in motion can be added or subtracted. So, if you are in a train that is moving at say 100 km/hour and you throw a ball at 10 km/hour in the direction at which the train is moving, to an observer outside the train, your ball is traveling at 110 km/hour. If you throw the ball towards the rear of the train, an outside observer will measure the ball as moving at 90 km/hour. If on the other hand, you shine a flashlight in the train, an outside observer will see the velocity of the resulting light beam moving at the speed of light – not the speed of light PLUS the velocity of the train, or the speed of light MINUS the velocity of the train, but at the speed of light! That’s nuts, but it’s scientifically nuts and been proven again and again in any experiment you care to devise.QUANTUM GRAVITY AND THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: We have the Theory of General Relativity (gravity) and Quantum Physics. Both are bedrocks of modern physics. Both are accurate to a high degree of experimental precision. Both aren’t compatible – with each other. Apparently, one (or both) of these theories must be wrong, or at best incomplete. That’s why the unification of the two (a theory of quantum gravity) is physics’ Holy Grail. However, that Holy Grail is proving as difficult to find as the Biblical Grail itself! But for the moment, it’s like the universe has two independent sets of laws – one governing the very large (gravity); one the very small (the quantum). This makes no natural or scientific sense.We have observations of four physical forces yet no theory which unites the three quantum forces (electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force) with the one classical force – gravity. Theory needs to be satisfied. All of the four fundamental forces should be interconnected; some sort of unification principle must be in operation that relates all four, one to the other. However, these four fundamental forces that govern the Universe show no signs of any obvious unification – well actually the three quantum ones do (known as the GUT – Grand Unified Theory), but that’s where the unification ends. Gravity remains the wallflower. If the Big Bang theory is to be proven correct as stated, scientists must of necessity come up with a viable theory of quantum gravity that is an acceptable unification of the trio of quantum forces with gravity. There is, to date, no viable theory of quantum gravity despite thousands of physicists searching for one over many generations now. Mother Nature is an anomalous bitch!

QUASARS: Quasars are ‘quasi-stellar objects’. They are ‘stellar’ because they aren’t all that large (like a galaxy). They are ‘quasi’ because they give off energy way, way, way more times greater than any star known in any astronomical catalogue. They seem to be primordial objects – they formed long ago and are now far away. Quasars, like stars or galaxies, are their own entities and if two or more show a very close and special causality relationships then they should show identical recessional velocities (since the Universe is expanding and they are part of the Universe and that expansion). Recessional velocities are measured by an object’s red-shift. Theory identifies red-shift with velocity. However, you apparently have some observations of causality connected quasar pairs with vastly differing red-shifts (measurements of their recessional velocities). The anomaly, in an analogy, is that you can not have a runner running at 15 miles per hour holding hands with another runner running at 3 miles per hour!MASS: There are three fundamental properties of particles (like the electron, neutrinos, the numerous quarks, etc.) and their anti-particles (like the positron). They are charge, spin and mass. As the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad, but that still leaves one out of three out of joint. In this case, it’s mass. Nobody can predict from first principles what the masses of the fundamental particles should be. That’s fairly disturbing for something as fundamental as mass. Despite the relatively large number of particles (including their equal and opposite anti-particles), there are only a few allowed values for charge and spin, values pretty much confined to the physics infield. But, for some reason, the mass (usually expressed in equivalent energy units – Einstein’s famous equation) of the various particles are not only scattered throughout the physics ballpark but are all over the city map and beyond. They take on values (albeit one value per type of particle) over many orders of magnitude without any apparent pattern or regularity or relationship between them – and nobody has the foggiest idea why, not a validly theoretical idea, or even a ‘far out’ idea. Why should mass differ so greatly from the other fundamental properties part and parcel of those elementary particles? It’s like someone just drew a few dozens of numbers out of a hat containing multi hundreds of thousands of values and assigned them to the few dozens of particles willy-nilly. Something is screwy somewhere because something so fundamental shouldn’t be so anomalous.PHYSICAL CONSTANTS: There are constant reports of physical constants that aren’t – constant that is. Physical constants are just that – a constant. They have just one value, everywhere, every-when, and no exceptions. But apparently some ‘constants’ have more than one value depending of where and/or when. Theory and observations (if correct) are yet again not in harmony and that’s totally nuts!TIME TRAVEL: Time travel to the past is a staple of science fiction, but surprisingly has actual viability in modern general relativity physics. In general relativity physics, time travel to the past is theoretically possible – though damned difficult in practice. However, that means that those time travel paradoxes are possible, even likely.The anomaly are those lovable paradoxes like going back in time, say ten years, and killing yourself (which is a novel way of committing suicide), which means you couldn’t have existed to go back in time in the first place in order to kill yourself, which means you’re not dead so you can go back in time and murder yourself, etc. What kind of physics is that?The second anomaly however is that no time travelers have been observed from our future. You would think various significant historical events would be swarming with historians and tourists from the future where time travel is possible. Nobody from our present or past has time traveled back in time and left a proof-positive calling card that we’ve ever found in the fossil record or recorded in the history books.If something is possible, especially something as interesting as time travel, we would expect to see either people from our future in the here and now, or evidence that we’ve traveled to the past, like finding a human skeleton buried inside a T-Rex skeleton, as in inside the area where the T-Rex’s abdominal cavity would be! We don’t.CATTLE MUTILATIONS: There’s no disputing the bona-fides of this gruesome reality. It has been observed – after-the-fact – photographed, documented, and investigated by all manner of officialdom, as well as unofficial private investigators. And though oft referred to as ‘cattle’ mutilations, all manner of wildlife and other domestic livestock have been targeted too, the first reported case being a horse. Like the crop circle phenomena, there are three possible explanations: natural, human or alien.If natural, why has this phenomenon only become an issue since the 1960′s? Predator-prey relationships, scavengers, etc. have existed and been observed ever since humans have inhabited the continents. There should be no anomaly here if animal mutilations are just the normal continuation of Mother Nature in tooth and claw. But there is an anomaly. If predators or scavengers, why are there no footprints, and especially if predators, why no signs of a struggle? How can predators account for precision removal of just certain body parts with razor sharp incisions? Since there’s no blood associated with the mutilated carcasses, did predators drink up their entire victim’s blood like an animal version of Dracula?If humans or cultists are responsible, why hasn’t anyone claimed responsibility? Why hasn’t anyone been caught, tried, convicted, fined and/or imprisoned for trespass, animal cruelty, destruction of private property, etc.? Why no signs of human activity like tire tracks and footprints and litter (say a cigarette butt or beer can or two). Again, why no signs of a struggle?Some have suggested this is the work of government, or government departments, taking samples to monitor for various bovine nasties, like diseases, or other types of contamination that could endanger human health if these livestock were consumed. Really! There are vastly easier ways of legally gathering up tissue samples than sneaking around in the dead of night and killing/mutilating animals for a few body parts.So of course it has to be extraterrestrials! How can aliens mutilate cattle (and other livestock and wildlife), decade after decade, without ever being seen? Why would aliens be interested in wildlife and livestock in the first damned place, or at least some of their highly selected body parts?HUMAN CULTURE & CIVILIZATION: There are two relatively unexplained turning points in the evolution of modern man when contrasted with our more primate-like ancestors. One is the acquisition of what we call culture. Culture (like art appreciation and abstract ideas like an afterlife) happened within a fairly narrow timeframe, roughly 50,000 years ago, wherever nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers gathered. Why the sudden transition? The second great leap forward, again, within a narrow timeframe, some 9000 years ago, was the transition from nomadic lifestyles to settlements – farming crops and herding now domesticated wildlife. Settlements rapidly became villages became towns became cities. While some nomadic hunter-gatherers still roamed the plains, like the Australian aboriginal, what was once that nomadic rule now became that exception to that rule. In both cases, culture and civilization, the observational evidence is rock-solid; theory can’t really explain the transition, or at least the relatively rapid transition, around the world, from the tried-and-true before-the-fact pre-cultural nomadic lifestyle to the unknown leap of an untested experiment with culture and settlements.ANCIENT EGYPT: LIGHTING THE PYRAMIDS, etc. We all are aware that many of the ancient Egyptian structures, like pyramids and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, contain vast numbers of deep and twisting passageways inside. Many of those interiors have been elaborately decorated with all manner of paintings and carvings of hieroglyphs, etc. Whether or not the interiors were decorated, there must have been a requirement for lighting. There were no glass windows. There were no battery-operated torches or flashlights. There was no electric lighting back then, though of course that’s how these structures are illuminated today for tourists and/or archaeologists. Neither source of available luminescent technology back then really holds a candle as it were to how they could have been actually employed. The obvious sources were burning torches, oil lamps, candles, etc. Now you don’t really want to undertake construction, detailed painting or carving stone by candlelight. In any event there are no traces of soot residue on the walls and ceilings. The alternative method was to position bronze or copper mirrors that reflect sunlight onto another mirror which in turn reflected that light onto another mirror further inside the structure which in turn reflected the light it received onto the next mirror down the line, etc. The physics problem is that the original sunlight gets so diluted so quickly after just a couple of mirrors in, that it becomes an impractical ways and means. If you have to penetrate very far inside the structure, and some passageways are indeed, very, very far inside, lighting with mirrors fail. The anomaly is you need adequate lighting yet there’s no really adequate source.

EXODUS, BOOK OF: There are multi-dozens of anomalies, things that just can’t be, reported in the Bible. Of all of these, the most anomalous is the Book of Exodus, because some of the events recorded there can be checked against another independent historical source. If the history in the Book of Exodus is found wanting, and it is, then if one holy book goes down the gurgler, then all the rest of the books are suspect too.The anomaly here is that the Book of Exodus features the land and peoples of ancient Egypt fairly prominently. A couple of key Biblical characters play leading roles there – Moses and Joseph – not to mention thousands of alleged Hebrew slaves. Nasty things happen to that land and those peoples like the ten plagues and the drowning of pharaoh’s army. The anomaly here is that you’d expect ancient Egyptian records to verify and collaborate and substantiate the Book of Exodus, but you don’t find anything of the sort. It’s as if the Biblical version took place in a parallel universe – or in the imagination of the all too human author.BIBLICAL MIRACLES: Then there’s this Biblical bit about Joshua commanding the sun to stand still (at least that’s the way I recall it). That’s a tall tale or myth but whatever, it can’t be a physical reality. But wait, there’s more! There’s Jonah and the whale; Eve’s creation from a rib; walking on the waters; the walls of Jericho tumbling down at the sound of no doubt out of tune trumpets or rams horns. In the Bible we have this tale of the multiplying of loaves and fishes out of virtually nothing.Miracles are part and parcel of any and all supernaturally based religions. Miracles of the supernatural kind (and that’s the only kind of miracle that counts here) violate one or more laws, principles or relationships established by science. There can be no such thing as a supernatural miracle in theory. However, there have been numerous reports of supernatural miracles.Reported events cannot violate the natural state of things. If they do violate that natural state of things, then they must be supernatural. There’s no known theory that can accommodate supernatural events. That’s part of the conflict between science and religion. The conflict is an anomaly.THE AFTERLIFE: A concept that closest to the hearts and minds of nearly all humans and human cultures past and present is what happens to us after we kick the bucket. The answer is we transcend into another life – an afterlife. Every culture, past and present, has an afterlife concept, a life after death concept, or some sort of an eternity or immortality worldview. Not all of the versions of the theoretical afterlife can be correct however. Idealistic theoretical expectations that when you die you won’t stay dead, versus practical reality that observations show that dead things stay dead, are indeed conflicting, therefore anomalous. However, nobody has ever come back from the dead to prove the reality of an afterlife to the satisfaction of any unbiased referee.From the examples above, I conclude that it almost seems as if someone (something) is ultimately responsible for our Universe, but he / she/ it / they didn’t quite think things through sufficiently. Methinks an all knowing, all powerful supernatural God type being wouldn’t have stuffed things up. So either the Universe is naturally stuffed up, or it was created stuffed up!

Deck Construction Maintenance Tips

You can hire a deck construction company to build your dream deck, but how do you take care of it to keep it looking nice? Performing basic maintenance and upkeep on your structure will keep it looking and functioning great for much longer than if you just let it sit there. Here are some tips to get you started.Repairs
Each year, check the supporting posts and joists underneath that hold the deck up, as well as the screws and bolts that connect it to your home. Inspect for wood rot, structural damage, or loose bolts and screws. Also check the railings and flooring for loose nails or screws, as well as damaged wood and splinters. If you find any problems, make sure and correct them before doing any further maintenance. This may be as simple as tightening bolts and hammering nails back in or as complicated as replacing posts. If you find wood rot on your supporting posts, it is best to give your deck construction company a call. These types of problems often require major renovations and are best left to the professionals.

SandingIf your deck is older and looks beaten up, consider sanding rather than washing it. Sanding an older structure can give it new life and add another 10 years to it. Before sanding, make sure all nails and screws are sunk into the wood so they don’t catch on the drum sander. Sand diagonally first with sandpaper that is 40-50 grit, then go back and sand it again horizontally using 70-80 grit sandpaper. This process evens out the surface while opening up the pores of the wood.Homemade Cleaning SolutionHere’s a recipe for an effective deck cleaning solution that you can make at home. Combine one quart of household bleach with 1/3 cup of powdered laundry soap and 3 quarts of warm water. Apply and rinse off.StainingStarting at an inner corner, use a sprayer to apply semi transparent stain. Watch for overspray on siding or any other surfaces nearby. Go over any puddles with a roller to even out the finish. Don’t let the stain completely dry before applying a second coat because it will not soak into the wood. Not all structures will require more than one coat. Use a stain that has a high amount of resin in it so it will last longer. Look for solids at or above the 50 percent level. In the years between staining your deck, a water sealant can be applied to protect the wood.

Ask your deck construction company about installing low-maintenance decking if you prefer to avoid frequent upkeep and repairs. These kinds of decking materials are stain, scratch, mold, mildew, and split resistant.