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How’s Your Reception?

I’m back!

Today I came across someone who’s left hand didn’t know what her right foot was doing.

HUH?

Well, I think of it this way. Hands are (more or less) on the same level of play. So if they’re suppose to clap but one decides to snap instead… You get the picture.

Now imagine someone who is suppose to be clapping, but instead the left hand snaps its fingers and the right foot decides to tab a counter beat. A bit confusing, don’t you think?

This is not good for a business. Whether this person is your employee, or a person you have to try to work with to get something done (co-worker), or a customer trying to get their needs met – the reason for the visit in the first place.

5-18-16 bad receptionist-2For the example I’m giving, the uncoordinated person is a receptionist. A business first line of contact with customers. This person, even if a new employee, should follow through with requests. You want this person to tell a customer/client that they will pass the information along to the proper person. Then if the receptionist tells your customer/client that the item they want will be ready to pick up at a specific time later that day – you want that receptionist to have done their part and follow through.

Now, imagine how bad you/your business can look if the customer returns at the appointed time and: the item isn’t ready (turns out no one was notified). The receptionist then proceeds to apologize, states that she will make sure you – the owner – knows. Then leaves for the day, because it’s her scheduled time to leave – never speaking to anyone. It can make it a challenge to get back in good graces with your customer. When the customer has wasted two trips, then will have to make a third one to finally get their item, you have some major customer relations work.

Remember, your receptionist IS your first line of contact with clients. You WANT this person to be able and willing to handle things and have the temerity to follow through (as far as they can) to make sure the customer is happy. Yes, this can be a challenge for a new employee and allowances can be made – to a certain degree. So, work with your receptionist to make sure you both understand what is required and what is expected. You can’t teach common sense, but you can teach how to do the job right.

Life in Different Directions

At various times in each person’s life, directions change. This can be good.

medicalWhen I started working (after school), I planned on the medical field. I was there for quite some time and in various forms. I was a medical assistant, hospital staff phlebotomist, customer service in a medical lab, secretary/receptionist in a durable medical equipment company, then secretary in a peer review organization. I learned much from each position.

 

food serviceThen things changed and I worked in a corporate office of a food service management company as an administrative assistant (secretary). I had a lot of fun with this job – yes it was hard work and some stress – but I loved that job.

 

 

dentalThings changed again, I worked as an education coordinator for a dental company. I had fun here too – but a lot more stress.

 

 

virtual-assistantThen WHAM! Things changed again. Since my seizures got worse and stress is one of my triggers I was advised to not work in an office for a while. Well that’s been seven years, I do wish that edict would lift (I’ve been looking for a full-time job for quite some time now). That change caused me to start my own business. What I can do in my business is very good – as a virtual assistant I’m dedicated to helping my clients. When things got to a point where I knew I wasn’t the help I could/should be, I gracefully stepped away from my client.

 

 

retailWell you guessed it, life has changed again. I’ve been working part-time in retail for a few years now. It’s OK, but not exactly what I was/am looking to do. Now, the company I work for has offered me (I accepted) the position of Manager. The last time I was in charge was waaaaaaaaaaay back there in that medical assistant career! YES, I am nervous. YES, I do worry as to whether or not I will be good at this part of my career.

 

YES, my husband and I both worry about my seizures. I have been seizure-free since August 2007, I plan on continuing this wonderful aspect of my life. I do have to find a safe and perfect way to manage my stress because the last thing I want would be for my seizures to start again. YES, I do know that worrying is a form of stress and just that alone could be a cause of concern. My personality is that of a Type A, work like crazy has to be perfect kind of person. (No, I’m not like this at home) It is a challenge finding a diplomatic course – I’m usually blunt, I have found that in customer service blunt isn’t always a good thing. But that being diplomatic thing is stressful sometimes!

So, yes I am looking forward to this new adventure. Yes, as I tell others, it is important to keep an open mind and a positive attitude. That positive attitude is what will get me to where I need to be, and how best to handle situations. Just have to remember that one!!

Does anyone have any stress relieving/preventing techniques you could share? I would really appreciate that information! (Oh, and think good thoughts for me!)

Mission: Possible – What Makes You Giddy?

What is your Mission in your life?

What is your Passion – what drives you? (no I don’t mean your vehicle)

contrary-2I’ve come to the conclusion, looking back on my life, my Mission seems to be: being contrary. I mean really??!! We’re always told to find our passion, our bliss, the thing that makes us tick and pursue that as a career. While this works GREAT for most people, it seems to backfire for me and I’m not completely sure why. Being contrary may not be a blessing in disguise.

One time I was told to follow my love of art/photography and somehow make that in to a career – there are so many possibilities. Except it turned out that the more I did with my artistic side to make a career, the more I hated what I was doing and doubted my abilities. Oh sure, I’m still creative I can see things others can’t, I can improve on the layout of a picture. But be enough to make a career out of this skill – apparently not so much. I either lose interest and/or faith in myself.

I am very good at what I do as a virtual assistant. However, I have found that I am happiest when I’m a “worker bee” and not a “queen bee.” I flat out do not like the “business” end of owning/running a business. Sure, I can assist others for their businesses, but I can turn off that worry at the end of the day. Run my own business? O M G!!!!! Then to throw in the idea of selling myself (most people call this marketing) – GULP!

I enjoy working with others, and helping them look good. Truly I do! It seems that even though (in some situations) I don’t mind being somewhat assertive; I like having a set thing to do and not have to worry about how the financial end of the business is doing, how is so and so doing with getting more business. So while I’m still working at a reduced level with my business and working at a part-time job, I’m still looking for the full-time job – I want to get back in to working in an office with people around.

So, have you found your answer to my first two questions? What is your Mission in life? What is your Passion – what drives you? I sure would love to read your answers!!!

Technology – Helpful Pain in the …?

Ah yes technology. Where would we be without it?

There are many incredible things technology has brought us – personally I love dishwashers. (yes, that is technology) No, I will not get in to a long list of technology, I’m sure you’re acquainted with a variety of forms.

computer hackerWhat I will talk about: the abominations called HACKERS, SPAMMERS, and the rest of their ilk.

One of the latest attacks – people calling you and telling you that there’s something wrong with your computer. They introduce themselves as: I’m Jason from Microsoft PC Help & Support. Your computer is sending us multiple warning/error messages. I am calling to help you with this problem.

OK, so Jason (sounds like he’s from India/Pakistan area of the world) tells me that he’s from Microsoft. I told him: “no, Microsoft would not be calling me, I don’t believe you.” As I’m about to hang up, he stated that he misspoke, his company is a contractor with Microsoft and they monitor Microsoft problems.

Uh huh, sure you do.

I told him I wanted proof of who he is, the company, then maybe I would listen more. He said that with each step he would show me what was going on and would explain everything. He then directed me to a website: http://www.ammyy.com/en/ and asked me to click the “Start working with Ammyy Admin (it’s free) button and we will get started.” It even has a warning: Attention! Please read this before giving UNKNOWN people access to your computer. So I asked what would this do. “Oh, this is so I can remote access your computer.”

Oh I don’t think so!

If you’re already telling me that you can tell that my computer is sending warning/error messages, why do you need remote access? Didn’t answer that one. I didn’t download. When I questioned how would he even know that my computer had any errors (even though my constantly updated computer protection programs don’t show any issues).

His answer?

Oh, well Microsoft has built in special codes in to the software just for this reason. Your computer is on right now, correct? Yes, it was. Doesn’t seem to matter that before his call I wasn’t on the internet. “Microsoft still knows.” Um hm. I’m not networked to anything – at all there’s no way. Then he says that hackers can get in to your computer without internet access and get your IP address. Then, once a hacker has that, well, they can do anything and it traces back to you and you’re the one responsible for all wrong doing. So, to protect you, let’s get started.

Remember how I mentioned technology has given us many things? Well cell phones are one of those things. Called my computer guy (CG) while I had the other guy on my house phone and told him what was going on. He told me to hang up IMMEDIATELY. So I did.

CG explained this current scam and that it was on the news just the other day (10/30/13). These guys call and do what they can to convenience you that your computer is failing and they can run scans to help clean your system. They will ask for personal information and credit card info, then “run” the scans. One person (according to the news) was charged $900 and the system wasn’t fixed. CG told me to just hang up on these calls.

So, if you get a call from a 206-456-0661 number – ignore it – that’s the number used when they called me last night. After I hung up they called back, my husband answered, the guy said, we got disconnected somehow. Yep, we hung up on you. But we need to start working… my husband said no, any issues will be handled with our CG who we know and trust – don’t call here any more and hung up.

Yes, technology is great. The thing that isn’t so great; the scam artists/hackers, etc. who seem to thrive off making people’s lives miserable. Yes, I know, this kind of thing has gone on for years, Carpetbaggers where a horrible lot. Just be careful, know who’s contacting you. If you have questions, hang up and call the company they say they represent and ask questions.

Oh, make sure your passwords are changed on a periodic basis. After last night’s call, I changed all of my passwords.

Frustration – a Real Pain in the Heart

frustration-babyOK, there are many reasons to be/feel frustrated. I acknowledge that. But I’m going to be selfish here and write about what’s been going on with me, perhaps you can relate to part of this. I know that I have written about “generic” frustration, I’ve talked about depression, but never from my own view, what I am truly experiencing.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have epilepsy, its onset was in 1991. To explain part of my current frustration, I feel the need to explain what I had/how often I had seizures. You see, my first seizure was in 1991. That was it, one seizure. It was felt that my blood sugar had dropped drastically and an unusual amount of stress was piled on top. A couple of years went by, (I wasn’t on any medication, not seeing a neurologist) and WHAM, I had my second seizure two years later.

Long story short, this one seizure then a couple of years go by then one seizure routine went on for years and all of my seizures are full-blown grand-mal. While yes, this was frustrating, it wasn’t enough to affect my daily thoughts/life. In 2005 my favorite job (of all time) went away. The company merged with another and I was no longer needed. The next job I found I enjoyed, but the stress that went with it was overwhelming. Then in 2006 I had my record number of seizures – eleven with days when I had multiple in one day. Now while this is nothing to many serious cases of epilepsy, this drastic of a change in my condition made my neurologist concerned. I made the employees of the company I was working for at the time very nervous; to the point where they finally got me to leave. In 2007 I underwent in hospital testing for a month at a time. The first was with electrodes on my skull. The second was with electrodes on my brain (obviously required 2 surgeries), and a lot of pain.

OK. On to my “current” frustration (and being completely honest – about everything).

I haven’t had a job since 2007. Well, I did work part-time for a local store for a short time but like many retail situations, the income wasn’t enough. It being a union store and I was getting a form of insurance, the company was taking around 40-45% of my check. That’s not enough to help with the bills. There’s a major source of depression/frustration just in that alone. I have been an administrative assistant for years, and at the urging of people I trust, I officially started my business of being a virtual assistant in 2009. I enjoy working with my clients, but there isn’t enough to do to keep me busy – busy enough to make money. I’ve discovered that I’m more of a “worker bee” and not really an entrepreneur. There’s nothing wrong with that, many businesses need on-site support staff.

Since 2011, about the time my biggest client re-vamped her business and cut back on a lot of things – like virtual staff – I have been looking for a full-time job. The idea was to be working, having a stable income then build my business from a different angle.

Then WHAM! My husband was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in 2011. He was treated and, thank God, has been cancer-free since September of 2011! Since then I have been looking for full-time work, although I have dropped the search once in a while. But this year I started in earnest looking for work. I’d get interviews for jobs that I really wanted, but then I’d get the “thank you for your interest, but we’ve chosen to go with a different candidate.” Or the “While your credentials are excellent, we’ve chosen a…” I even had a client that had the potential to be a permanent job; the company owner changed his mind – over the objection of the department and department head I was working with.

Am I asking for too much???

While there have been many highs and lows since 2005 (seemingly more lows), I do thank God for the positives:

  • count blessingsI have been seizure-free since 2007
  • My husband does not have cancer
  • Even though we had to file for bankruptcy, we still have our home
  • I am physically able to hold a job – and I truly want one
  • Family and Friends
  • That I’m alive

I am doing my utmost to not scream at God/the Universe. For you see, I have been positive (for the most part) that what I want is mine. The job I want, (which by the way allows for me to be the main income and my husband can go to part-time something) with worries down to a minimum.

So, as I typically answer people, because I really believe I’m going with: the Sun is shining, Life is good.

(A BIG winning lottery ticket wouldn’t hurt either.)

Fuddy Duddy – Hopelessly Out Of Sync?

fuddyduddyOMG! How can this be?

It seems that some of my thoughts/beliefs put me in the “old fuddy duddy” category. Just what are these (just some) thoughts that put me there? I’ve made a list and not in any particular order:

  • There’s the store commercial showing a couple excited about passing out Halloween candy at the 1st doorbell chime, then at the 2nd opening the door to Christmas carolers. How/when did that happen? Have we forgotten a holiday in between? It’s called Thanksgiving for those who are wondering.
  • FordHow did (one of) my heart throb change so much? Did I change that much?
  • The waistband of (some) guys pants is down so low they have to hold them to walk – well move in any way. WHY? Who started this, and why would anyone think this is a good look? I’ve never spent time in a prison, but I know what that means in a men’s prison!
  • What is it with being “politically correct”? It seems OK to go overboard on removing some religious symbols (because some find it offensive), but OK to keep others. It’s OK to call me a “cracker” but I can’t return any slurs??? (for the record – I wouldn’t anyway, never have)
  • When did it become the status quo to throw common sense out the window? I mean really, suing because hot coffee was too hot?????? The same crib (gulp) older adults were in as infants can’t be handed down as an heirloom for use because it isn’t safe – “a baby could get stuck”. Cant’ spank a child, it might damage their little psyches? As we can see from all the rude kids running around, that “time out” form of punishment certainly isn’t doing the trick. My brother and I survived “corporal” punishment.
  • No keeping score in games? “Because everyone is a winner, everyone is equal.” HUH??? Yep, that’ll get a child ready for the real world. Besides, how do you know when the game is over?
  • I know that respect is earned. However, when did it become unacceptable to hold a door open for the next person? When did it become OK to break into an older (80+) person’s home and beat them (either almost or to death) because they didn’t have what the burglar was looking for? I know burglary has been around for centuries, but really, beating people in their beds because they don’t have valuables in their home? When did the basic yes ma’am/no ma’am go away?
  • Why don’t politicians have common sense? That’s it for politics here, won’t discuss on this blog, not what it’s designed for.
  • Why don’t proper titles work? For a young man – prior to puberty – his title is Master, as in Master Robert. A single woman is actually Mistress, as in Mistress Caryn. Although for the record, Miss is a proper abbreviation.

Well, yes there is more, but who wants to read my HUGE list? You can get a good idea of my views from this list. I’m not a stick in the mud. I don’t faint at “colorful language,” because I can swear with some of the best. Nude scenes in movies (there’s a LOT more of it, is it really needed for the story?) don’t bother me. It can’t be just me. Have we gone overboard? I still enjoy the I Love Lucy re-runs, no sex/swearing in those. Going back to Harrison Ford and Star Wars – 1977, no sex scenes and the amount of violence was right to tell the story. Oh yeah, another peeve. Why is there so much more violence and sex to tell a story?

OK, stepping down from my soap box. I do know that much like Pandora’s Box, since some things have been released there’s no putting them back. However, mutual respect for one’s fellow man should never be out of mode.

Just my thoughts. What are yours?

Wallflower – Your Business Needs You Front and Center

wallflowerHey Wallflowers! Wake Up!

When it comes to social situations, how many of you are wallflowers – raise your hands.

OOPS, this being a virtual world, I can’t see the answer. No matter. Us wallflowers don’t always answer those types of questions anyway. WHY? Because it (generally) brings unwanted attention.

OK, how many business owners are wallflowers?

More than you might think. It’s just that some of us have come to learn that if we don’t get “out there” no one will know about us. Think about it. If Abraham Lincoln, Orville Wright, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Tom Hanks or Lucille Ball let their shyness rule, would we have things like planes? Or think about this, if Thomas Edison let his shyness rule, would anyone have accepted his inventions – like the motion picture camera? If that wasn’t invented, how would we see movies? We wouldn’t have gotten to see Tom Hanks in Big. We wouldn’t have seen The I Love Lucy show.

So, now how will anyone know how wonderful your business is if you can’t get past your shyness and/or fear of being in the public eye?

You may have the same/similar argument I have. My work is in the virtual world and is all over, most of my clients are not local. Trust me, I’m definitely with you on that one! I have clients that I’ve never seen and the only reason I know what they look like is because of their picture on one of the social networking sites. But my business coach – who I also have not seen face-to-face – has told me that I need to get out there and strut my stuff.

Strutting your stuff – virtually – can be via social media, a killer website, and awesome marketing. But even with this – wallflower business owners need to engage. It is your face the public sees when it comes to your business (even if it is only a picture).

Now, as this quote says – get out there and dance! So get closer to the flashing lights, before the night is over just DANCE.”

Um, for the record – and complete honesty – for me, some of this is a do as I say not as I do kind of thing. I really want and hope you do better than me. I know I need to get away from that wall.

This article is also found in Small Biz Forward magazine. There are many other contributing writers with great articles – check them out!