Archive for November 2010
This week I will postpone our update on the healthcare reform to kickoff the holiday season. Last December I focused on the Holiday season and it was well received by readers of my blog. I will do the same this year. I will try to fit in the health care update later in December.
Last Thanksgiving in My post “Over the river and through the woods…” I gave a list of things I thought most Americans would be doing for that Holiday. Read that post by clicking here.
This year my list will be a humorous musing about the Christmas Holiday season.
According to my unscientific research, during December:
11% of Americans will vow to do their shopping earlier
25% of Americans will injure themselves or damage their property rigging up the lights in icy, wind-blown conditions
32% of those injured rigging up the lights will vow to do their outdoor decorations earlier
44% of Americans will receive a gift they don’t want or need and 22% will re-gift the item
53% of Americans will eat too much and vow to stop overeating during the holidays
67% of Americans will shop on-line for at least one gift
73% of American men wrap gifts that look like a third grader wearing mittens did the wrapping
80% of Dentists (4 out of 5) recommend Trident to their patients that chew gum
83% of Americans chew gum
96% of people deny “re-gifting”
100% of this is list is nonsense
Have a great week and a wonderful start to the Holiday season. Be careful with those outdoor decorations!
This week’s topic corresponds with the Thanksgiving Holiday. First off, I want to wish everyone a peaceful, restful and THANKFUL Thanksgiving Holiday. Take time between bites and reflect upon what you are thankful for this year.
My list is going to be confined to things that happened, were invented or that I “discovered” during 2010.
In no particular order, here is my list:
- The Finger Lakes Region. I went on vacation there this year and it was fabulous. It has wineries, lakes, mountains, valleys, forests, waterfalls, trails and so much to see that most people could have a good time. It also has a terrific glass Museum in Corning as well as a Norman Rockwell museum and a NASCAR Race Track in Watkins Glen. That is a diverse list which should appeal to many people.
- The iPad. Despite making fun of it and questioning its functionality, I believe the next generation soon to be introduced will become even more useful for businesses and a great gateway to computers for novices that thought they never would use a computer or the internet.
- My customers. In 2010, I discovered how much I enjoy helping my customers succeed, or in a down economy, maintain the status quo. It was a difficult year but rolling up my sleeves and finding ways to keep expenses down, streamlining processes and offering a fresh perspective on problems has strengthened our relationship.
- The Major League Baseball Season. The 2010 season was full of surprises with remarkable pitching performances, great defensive plays and a World Series played by two teams who hadn’t won a Championship in over 50 years.
- The hot, dry summer weather. People who had to work outside in the heat and humidity rightfully rejoiced when the cooler fall days arrived but I was able to ride my bicycle longer, faster and more frequently without the threat of rain. I know my lawn and vegetable garden suffered but I had more fun this year pedaling across the fruited plain than I have had in many years.
Have a great week and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.
Today I would like to share with you my recent brushes with technology upgrades I made in the past week. Before I do, let me give you a heads up on a very interesting topic that I will address in the next business related topic on 11/29/10. I have asked a consultant in the insurance industry to give us all an update on the impact of the health care reform legislation. I had a very interesting discussion with her a couple of weeks ago and felt very strongly that this information needs to be shared with as many individuals and business owners as possible. Some myths will be dispelled and perhaps some stomachs will be upset by what she will share. Mark your calendar for 11/29/10 to read more.
Now for today’s topic on technology:
Last week I jumped headlong into a computer upgrade that was quite extensive. I purchased a replacement for my 4 year old laptop computer and got a better machine, relatively speaking, than I bought 4 years ago for $200 less. That was the good news. The bad news was changing operating systems going from XP Pro to Windows 7, changing from Microsoft Office 2003 to 2007 and for good measure upgrading some accounting software from 2006 to the 2011 version.
If that was all that I had to absorb that would have been plenty but I also had to load new drivers for my hardware since I am now running Window 7 – 64 bit software. It may sound ridiculous but I have 3 printers. I have 2 on my desk in my office and a smaller one that I use when I am on the road. I also have an extra scanner in my office in addition to my all-in-one printer/fax/scanner/copier that sits on my desk. I also had to register software and transfer over files from my old computer to my new one. Rather than go into any more detail let me just say it was a busy week of out-of-comfort zone activities.
Despite all the challenges, I made it through successfully and all software and hardware is working properly. One by-product of the 64 bit version of Windows 7 was faster performance from my printers and scanner. I also want to let you know that if you have not upgraded your computer to Windows 7 do not be afraid, it is very easy to work with in my opinion. It is just a prettier version of XP pro with some neat features that outweigh some the new features that take a while to get used to. I am still learning every day but I felt I was at an acceptable level of competency in about 1 day of use. Fortunately, I have had Microsoft Office 2007 for a couple of years on my personal desktop computer so I was a little less worried about upgrading to that program. Even though I have been using Microsoft Office 2007 – especially Excel I have not gotten in as deeply into the changes as I discovered when I had to use it to run my old excel files. So far I have been able to deal with the changes without too much loss of efficiency. I have also found that you can simply hide the ribbons and customize the tool bar with icons and that helps quite a bit and can let you slowly wade into the world of ribbons if you choose to.
Good luck with technological issues you may face and have a great week. Next week I will write about Thanksgiving.
The clocks have been set back to standard time and that prompted me to think about the things I can look forward to as we enter deeper into the Autumn season. Below is my list in no particular order (tongue in cheek of course):
1. The 15 pounds I gain makes me look more like Santa!
2. No need to ride that annoying bicycle in the dark after daylight savings time ends.
3. Go to work in the dark, its overcast all day, and go home in the dark–save gobs of money on sun block.
4. I love the smell of fresh ground venison on my grill – of my car.
5. On a good day, it gets warm enough to chill red wine on the porch and on a bad day, you can chill white wines to a perfect 42 degrees.
6. The sound of breaking glass and crumpling sheet metal travels better in cool, crisp fall air. (See item 4)
7. When my favorite team loses, I can muffle my uncontrollable sobbing into my woolen PJ’s.
8. I kind of like that “goofy” feeling I get from cold medicine.
9. The view of the neighborhood in the rain is wonderful on my roof as I unplug my leaf-filled downspouts.
10. Turkey on Thanksgiving, nature’s sleep aid.
While we are waiting for a rebound in the economy we should be preparing for the return to ”Normal” while things are still slow. Below, I have listed five things to focus on to get ready for the return to higher profits.
- Company morale. It has been a long economic downturn, you may have had layoffs at your company, and people may be doing the work of two people or are worried they are next one to go. Have you assessed the morale of the company? Have you had a special treat for the staff like a pizza lunch or an afternoon snack just for the heck of it? View your employees as an asset not a liability - they are the key to your success or failure.
- Are skills up to date? Have you been hunkered down worried about making ends meet and neglecting technical or other skills? Before things pick up again maybe you should schedule your training so you and your employees can maintain your cutting-edge status.
- Maintenance. Have you kept up with maintenance programs for buildings, machinery and equipment? Have you deferred maintenance during the downturn or let equipment get obsolete? Now might be the best time to get a plan together to assess your needs for capital expenditures. If your company is in good financial condition, you can take advantage of good pricing and low interest rates to get this done.
- Is your “message” in need of updating? Do your flyers, business cards, promotional materials and website properly reflect your image? Is it time to start a blog, Facebook for business page or some other new low cost way to get your message out to a wider audience? Does your website accept payment for goods and services? If you have a website, can it direct sales to you? Can a customer place an order on your website?
- Are you in compliance with regulations and industry standards? The increase in regulation by government at all levels has been staggering. Federal, state and local governments are also now aggressively enforcing regulations for one main reason – money. It is becoming very clear that fines for all sorts of infractions are a source to balance budget shortfalls due to decreased tax revenues. If you have not been a victim of this tactic, I am sure you know of a company who has. Spend time now doing a complete assessment of your compliance with all aspects of your operations. This will be an ongoing problem even after business returns to normal levels. Remember, increased tax revenues will not begin immediately. They will lag and your higher taxable income year will not help the taxing authorities until after you file your tax returns.
Have a great week getting ready for better days ahead.