Author Archive

Self Awareness

October 21, 2013 1 comment

Self-Awareness Can Be One of the Secrets to Success

 In talking to a business acquaintance the other day I was reminded of his strong opinions.  He is one of those people who puts up verbal roadblocks to any idea or suggestion that is not in alignment with his opinion of ‘how things should be’.  He is thereby missing new information or innovative ideas to consider because his mind is closed.

Have you ever been accused of only hearing what you want to hear or seeing what you want to see?

 Try this exercise. Ask a friend to look around and make note of everything that is green. Next, have him close his eyes. Once his eyes are closed, ask him to tell you what around him is red.

 Almost everyone you ask will not be able to tell you what was red because they were focusing on what was green. Our perceptions work the same way.

 If we have expectations or biases, we tend to see what we want to see.  Likewise, if people try to tell us something we do not want to hear, we simply do not hear them.

 With the increasing rate of change in the business environment, this is not a good time to be close-minded.  In the past, many businesses succeeded by maintaining the status quo, but in today’s marketplace, it is necessary to expand this narrow focus.

 One way to do that is to be aware of our own prejudices and expectations.

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Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.” Mark Twain

Loyalty.  The word congers up something good… like a loyal friend, loyal employee, and of course, loyal pet.

Cognitively we know that the definition doesn’t change (‘the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations; faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.’) but our perception of how it’s applied may make loyalty good one minute and not so good another.

For example: being ‘loyal to a cause’; if you’re loyal to MY cause, it’s a good thing, but if you’re loyal to the other side, well…I may think you’re either nuts or your loyalties are misplaced.

What about ‘blind’ loyalty?  I’m embarrassed to say that on more than one occasion I have adopted the viewpoint of a friend rather than think and research the information to develop my own opinion. I think this is a kind of blind loyalty.

Too, I remember while growing up I did some things that my older sister talked me into doing that could have really hurt us both.  We now look back on and say, “What were we thinking?” Has blind loyalty ever affected your thoughts or actions?

More gray areas exist when it comes to loyalty in politics.   Thomas Jefferson wrote:  “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”   Thought provoking words as local and national politics and philosophies often create divisions in our community.

From a business perspective, do you think the following statements true or false?

  • As a paid employee, my employer deserves my loyalty.
  • As a competitive business owner, my employees deserve my loyalty.

It would be helpful for each of us to determine how we think about loyalty at work well ahead of the time when we find ourselves in a situation that requires immediate action and where loyalty is in play.

I wish you a safe and happy summer!!!

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“The easiest way to change your boss – or anyone else.”

December 11, 2012 1 comment

During the holidays, when time is at a premium, I especially appreciate these brief business tips from Paul Hellman.  This month’s tip:  “The easiest way to change your boss—or anyone else.”  Take a minute and take a look.  It might change your view… even just a little.  
CNBC runs these tips regularly on their website:

To subscribe to these fast tips (no cost, no spam):

Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

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Vote by mail

The application to vote by mail must be received by the Elections Official (Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk no later than October 30, 2012.  Go to the LA County website to download an application:

Happy Voting!

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“How to Get Them to Pay Attention”

I came across this article written by Paul Hellman, founder of Express Potential.  Among other accomplishments, he is a business consultant and executive coach, helping businesses improve performance and productivity, which is why his message caught my eye.  It’s called “The 7 Laws of Attention”; it’s well-written and on target!  Laws # 3 and 5 especially resonated with me.  Please read the article and see if you agree with Paul’s message.

1) It’s easy to get distracted.

When Jimmy Carter was President, he was criticized for micro-managing requests to use the White House tennis courts.

You can see how tempting that might be—easier than negotiating with Congress, or dealing with tough foreign situations.

The challenge is to focus. What are you paying attention to? What should you be paying attention to?

In the last hour, my avoidance behavior has included checking email, scheduling a haircut, and eating almonds.

I don’t even like almonds.

 2) Your attention shapes you—and others.

“When a pickpocket walks down a street,” says a proverb, “all he sees are the pockets.” 

The boundaries of your life are determined by your attention. Sometimes we obsess about small things; we get small.

And if you’re a leader, others pay attention to you. What you say, and what you do define what’s important.

What do you say is important?

 3) Assume non-attention.

Attention spans are shrinking. There’s too much information, too much noise. So just because you said something, doesn’t mean anyone heard it. 

Imagine, the next time you talk that, instead of info, you’re delivering a truckload of furniture. Here’s the problem: the other person’s house is already fully furnished. 

Where are they going to put all your stuff?

They don’t even hear you ring the doorbell. They’re out back, in the swimming pool, drowning in information.

 4) Attention is a scarce resource; people kill for it.

We forget the value of paying attention to others. Managers, when coaching employees, often think they have to provide advice and make suggestions—and sometimes that’s useful.

But there’s power to just listening. Listen well, and others will say you have “presence.”

Are you present?

5) It’s not enough to pay attention.

You’ve also got to look like you’re paying attention.  “I was surprised,” a manager told me recently, “to discover how negatively people viewed my texting during meetings.”

Maybe you can multi-task, maybe you can’t (neuroscientists say you can’t), but either way, the optics are bad. 

6) Attention can be practiced, and developed. Could make you happier.

“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” say Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert.

Their research (http://www.trackyour suggests that focusing on what you’re doing, even if it’s just washing the dishes, correlates with happiness; mind wandering, not so much.

 7) Your attention needs to be refreshed. Often.

Take frequent breaks—shift your attention to here-and-now sensory experience. Stand up and stretch, go for a walk, listen to music.


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VIA’s B2B – 2013

YES, we are so excited to be (already) working on B2B~2013! 

Now is the time to mark your business calendars and add placeholders in your budgets for sponsorship dollars!

If last years’ hugely successful B2B is any indicator, more businesses will be vying for exposure at the Valley’s premier business event, so please consider this reminder to:

  • Save the date – March 19, 2013
  • Earmark – Sponsorship funds in your budget

B2B 2013 will be held at the Hyatt  Regency Valencia.  Many of the details are still being planned so watch the VIA website and our media sponsors for information as it unfolds. 

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Choose Change

Like a lot of business people, I get my fair share of junk email.  Every once in a while, something will catch my eye and I’ll take a look, wondering, “How in the heck did I get on this mailing list?” This time, the looking paid off.

From “”, motivational and inspirational gifts, I got a glimpse of something I found useful and wanted to share.  It also reminded me of an earlier post by Scott Capistrano.  This is from a book entitled,  “The Nature of Success”.

“The root for ‘motivation’ is ‘move’, and movement is change.  Ask yourself right now… Am I moving forward or am I standing still?

Do I have a career that I love?  …Do I have a healthy lifestyle?  Is my energy level, my attitude, where it should be? … Is there an activity I’ve wanted to pursue?

Truthful answers to these and other questions will tell you whether you want, or need to change.

A cautionary inner voice will tell you not to rock the boat, to stay on the path of least resistance, but your heart is telling you otherwise.

Listen to your heart.  Filter out the old static and tune in something new.  Challenge your assumptions, identify and study people already doing what you want to do.

Read books and listen to tapes that will motivate you to break away from the notorious “comfort zone”.

Confront your fears.  When one is unsatisfying day just blurs into the next – your life is begging for a change.

Change can truly be a wonderful gift.  It can recharge your emotional battery and nourish your soul.  Just do it!  Choose change and let it make a positive difference in your life.”

— Mac Anderson

Maybe this particular message appeals to me because like some of my business colleagues,  I am making changes AND want to know we have some company!

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I’d rather be talked about than forgotten

August 8, 2011 1 comment

I received a survey the other day and decided to take a few minutes to provide feedback for a couple of reasons… the first being that I was very satisfied and wanted to let the company know.

The second reason was because the survey was preceded (by a few days) with a note from the president of the company.  Now I realize that it was probably a form letter, BUT… this guy wrote just as if we were standing in the same room and he was genuinely pleased that I’d chosen his company.  He was hopeful that my experience was satisfying and that I would tell him all about it.

Since then, I’ve received another ‘letter from the President’, this time from a different company and for a different reason.  It was less personal and it felt like a form letter.  Guess it would take an expert to discern the difference, but there definitely was one.

The lesson for me is that if I’m going to take the time to enhance my business image by sending personal notes to my customers, I need to make sure to hit the mark.  As in my experience, the first letter was very impressive and the second was very forgettable.  Wish I could tell you exactly what the appeal was (or wasn’t), but all I know is that I’ll be paying attention to whatever goes from my desk to a customer’s IN box.   I’d rather be talked about than forgotten.

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All that I want

This is the text of my sister’s upcoming contest as a Toastmaster.  The message, as you will read, is ‘powerful’, and I wanted to share it with you.

The Rev. Billy Graham was recently asked: “Sir, what about this life has surprised you the most”?  His reply?  “Its brevity” A short time ago, I was a 17 year-old high school senior.  Now I am a 60 year-old social security senior.  I love being 60.  You see when I was in my late teens and early 30’s all I did was get married and divorced, married and divorced, and married yet again.  In my thirties, and early 40’s all I did was work.  I worked 50 and 60-hour weeks so I could buy stuff. Big stuff, little stuff, new stuff old stuff.  Your stuff.  My credit cards had skid marks and their own zip codes.  Then on Jan 4 1998, my life as I knew it ceased to exist.  My husband of 20 years, the absolute love of my life, the man I was supposed to grow old with, died of a sudden heart attack.  One minute he was on the racquetball court, and the next he was in the arms of Jesus.

Well meaning friends would often tell me. “Debby you are lucky, at least he didn’t suffer”.  No, he didn’t suffer; he left that for me to do.  And suffer I did.  Shortly after Larry died, I was in the hospital having major surgery.  Three weeks later my only surviving grandparent died. Me?  Back to the hospital, this time with carpel tunnel surgery.  The wind came along and blew the shingles off of my roof, my downstairs flooded, and the transmission fell out of my pick-up.  All this happened by August of that year.  Oh, I suffered!  I felt like the psalmist David when he cried out:” Hear me oh Lord.   Hear me Oh Lord and deliver me.”   I spent days on my knees because I had nowhere else to go.

When at last I began to emerge from that deep abyss, I realized something; I had spent the past 47 years living in fear.  You know that fear.  That “False Evidence Appearing Real”.  You see, I had always had all that I wanted and all that I needed.  Fear kept me from putting it together.  When I was busy getting married, all I wanted was to have a good marriage…All I needed was to be a better partner.  During my buying frenzy, I already had all I wanted; all I needed was to respect my possessions.  When my husband died, all I wanted was for the pain to end. All I needed was to accept that my life had changed forever.  Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.  For when I am disturbed, it is because I cannot accept some person, place, or situation and I will find no peace until I accept that person, place, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be, because nothing — absolutely nothing — happens in God’s world by mistake.  What fear is keeping you from where you want to be?  The fear: “I’m too old… I’m not smart enough… I’ve never done that before?”  All lies to keep you from doing, being, having.  Pitiful or Powerful. We can be pitiful and live in fear, or we can be powerful and live our dreams.

Yes, the Rev. Graham was right, life is short.  Yesterday I was 20, this morning 45, and now I’m 60.  Yes, my hips are wider, but so is my smile.  Things that used to be up here are now down here but that’s just gravity, so who cares?  I don’t because I am living my dreams.  Since 2000, I have been parasailing in Thailand and salmon fishing in Alaska.  I have ridden the roller coaster atop the Stratus Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada, and have rejoiced in the birth of my great-granddaughter.

Pitiful or powerful?  Release your fears.  Live your dreams.

Denise Henderson


February 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I hoped I would die before I had to learn to use a computer.  Don’t get me wrong, — I wasn’t suicidal or looking to die young.  I was hoping technology would slow down and let me live out my natural life without having to learn the complexities of being computer literate (oxymoron in my case!).

Lucky for all of us, computers have become easier and faster to use and very intuitive – EXCEPT, I still have to push the ‘start’ button to turn my computer ‘off’.  Whose genius idea was that?  But for the most part, it simply takes time and effort to learn, like a new language.

Now, I’ve become so dependent on technology, I panic when I can’t get on line or when my cell phone is inoperable.  I’ve even been known to take my phone to the restroom so I won’t miss a call.  You’re not like that are you?

Many of the technological advancements we use today are need-driven, and I believe, equally driven by ‘want’, which drives a whole other set of behaviors… this blog for instance.

I mean, really!  How much time do we spend writing and reading someone else’s thoughts and opinions?  More importantly, what are we saying to each other?  (Unknown author:  “Opinions are like bellybuttons – everybody has one”.)  I wonder if  I am that interesting, and frankly some of you may be in the same category.

Truthfully, I am saying all this tongue-in-cheek.  I have read the blogs posted on VIA’s website and, this one being the primary exception, I would say that all of them are helpful to business people.

We can learn a lot from each other if we only keep an open mind.  You can tell that opening my mind to blogging made me sweat… I’d rather wash windows.  Next time I weigh in, I intend to write something that deserves your time.

Denise Henderson
MD Commercial Cleaning

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