Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why Big Box Office Supplies Stores Will Most Likely Die Out


#shopping #bigbox #service

Being fifty-two I still remember the days when people bought typewriters. Doing the many chores that now can be handled on a phone required electric typewriters, answering machines, fax machines, and Dictaphones. The elite sales staff, who represented this type of equipment, wore suits. They marched with pride through the aisles because they knew that they were valuable employees. They could demonstrate every single feature of the various pieces of equipment with ease. They were treasured by their customers because they offered clever advice. Then came the days when all of us tackled our first computer and printer purchases in the late eighties – beginning nineties. We received great service then, too.
Today it is a whole new ball game. The other day, my printer went on strike. This particular unit, the HP Photosmart 5510, has an excellent photo scanner, which still works perfectly, only the actual printer does not. I decided to buy a small cheap printer and run it via wireless connection. I don't print a lot because favor paperless transactions. So I went online and checked a large office products retailer’s offerings. Then I called the closest store and asked to speak to the subject matter expert. I asked him a few questions, starting with whether they had the unit in stock and if he foresaw any problems for my plan to run both printers. Lastly, I told him that I would be getting into the car as soon as I hung up. I would arrive at the store in fifteen minutes. Was he going to be there in fifteen minutes or would he possibly be at lunch then? The reason why I asked was that I wanted to test what kind of service this store offered.  It was 1:45 pm. He replied, he could not guarantee that he would be at the store in fifteen minutes, because his manager just “sent people for lunch”, there was no specific time frame. I asked him to be there; surely he could tell his manager that a customer, who might have some last minute questions, was on the way to purchase this printer. He said he would.
When twelve minutes later I arrived at the store he had gone to lunch. Coincidentally the lady who greeted me was the manager. She said he had never talked to her, and, I should just wait for thirty minutes. [Who has thirty minutes to wait around? Does this manager live and work in the same world as I do?]
Another employee volunteered to help. I asked him if everything I needed to install the printer was in the box. (I know that this sounds as if I ask strange questions but bad experiences have gotten me that far.) The clerk told me that, no, I would have to buy a certain cable to set up the printer. Surprisingly, that very minute the other employee returned from lunch early, carrying a paper bag from a fast-food restaurant. He too agreed that I needed the cable. Why had he not told me that when we spoke on the phone? I asked if we could open the box to check, but was told, no, we could not. When I was finally at home and installed the printer, it turned out that I did not need the cable. I will have to make a second trip to return it.
This was only the latest experience in a series of events with incompetent people at three different office supplies store chains.
A few days earlier, before I realized that my old printer did not work anymore, I went to a different chain of office supplies stores to buy an ink cartridge. Unfortunately I had forgotten to look up the ink cartridge’s number but I knew my printer’s model number. So I asked the sales person in this department to please look up that information. He checked in a thick folder and told me. [Would you believe that Hewlett Packard produces two printers with the number 5510, the Officejet 5510 and the Photosmart 5510? I wonder what they thought when they came up with this concept…. ]
Apparently neither did the sales clerk know of this fact. Looking at the cartridge box I questioned that the package seemed to look different than the ones I purchased in the past. The person who works in this department every day assured me that it was the right cartridge and that only the box had been changed. It turned out he was just saying … something…  You guessed it – I had to make a second trip.
A few weeks prior to that event, an employee at yet another office supplies and printing services chain told me that he would have to charge me $5.00 for deleting one single line from a file for my new business cards. I suggested that he should reconsider; after all, the effort was no more than pointing a mouse at one line and clicking the delete button. This action which does not take longer than ten seconds could not possible cost almost as much as the hourly pay at minimum wage. When this employee did no reconsider charging the fee I reconsidered the purchase and gave that approximately $160 print job to an online store. I saved 50% in the process.  
In the recent past I also wanted to buy an armrest for my desk. Visiting the same store, where I had bought the wrong ink cartridge I asked an employee, if the store carried armrests. While I thought that this was as simple question it wasn’t - for the about 20-year old employee. He guided me to the furniture section of the store and began to search. Obviously, he had no idea what products his store carries, even though he spends eight hours per day on the premises. I think that is because these employees, who earn barely more than minimum wage don’t care what products they sell. Then again, why should they, at their pay rate?  
Additionally, at the same store I had also ordered scans of oversized pictures 11x17”, on two different occasions. While the first time the employee saved the file correctly as a jpeg, the second time another employee simply saved it as a pdf. Obviously, this second “printing services expert” has no idea of the difference between these two types of files.
At my visit, when I exchanged the incorrect printer cartridge, I happened to see the store’s manager, who was cutting paper in the printing services section. (Is this store understaffed or was he trying to look busy because he really does not know what a manager is supposed to do?) When I tried to tell him that his employees needed better training because they neither knew what merchandise the store carries, nor could they look up correctly what printer cartridges belonged to which printers, he said, “Ah… aha… I am sorry.” He looked neither interested nor managerial. If anything, he looked a beaten man. No, I don’t shop there anymore, which is why I bought the printer at another store, which turned out to have equally bad service and a manager who thinks that buyers have time to wait around.
These five experiences played out at three different stores of three different office supplies chains over the course of five to six months.
The other day one of my friends told me of similar experiences. She too believes that the reason for this epidemic of incompetence lies in the fact that most of these employees get paid at a rate of $8.25 an hour. After swallowing a lot of anger she has now made it her mission to cheer up the poor, underpaid, and frustrated employees. My friend is a much more spiritual person than I am; she also studies yoga and Buddhism. It seems to help with these situations.
While all of us know that the level of service has fallen at pretty much every retail chain in the United States, office product stores are more vulnerable to elimination than others. When we purchase foods most of us like to see and smell the foods before we buy, when we purchase clothing most of us like to try it on, when we buy furniture most of us like to try it out, and so on. When we buy at these other types of retail stores selecting our purchases involves some kind of sensual experience, which is why we visit there in the first place.
In contrast, office supplies are always sealed in thick plastic wrapping or boxes (which according to the employees cannot be opened), thus there isn't really anything to try out or to touch. The only reason why many of us go to office supplies stores is because we need a certain product in a hurry or we’d like to get ADVICE…  Right! Advice. I wonder if any of the managers or employees has ever considered that.
But, setting my own and my friend’s unpleasant experiences aside, there is a bigger danger to office supplies stores than the actions of people of our generation. The next generation of buyers has grown up with computers and printers. They buy online from their cell phones. While most of these young people cannot read a map and cannot find their way without a GPS, they already know everything about computers and cell phones.  
To attract these and all customers shopping needs to be a sensual and exciting experience. The potential buyer needs to FEEL that employees want to sell him their exciting products like it happens at the Apple stores.  If office supplies stores won’t manage to do that, sooner or later little niche businesses will.  Big box office supplies stores will be history. I wonder how these corporations’ corporate and common stockholder see this. Do they ever shop at these places? 
~*~
Multi award-winning author and life skills expert Gisela Hausmann is the author of 15 books. Born in Vienna Austria, she graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Film and Mass Media from the University of Vienna.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Is it really a good idea to keep 'producing content... content... content'?


#blogs, #new, #content, #excitement 


These days we hear much too often, "Produce content, content, content...", "Blog often...". "Share content on social media - often", and that is what most people do. Inevitably, many blogs sound similar. All of us will read blogs and wonder, "Didn't I read something similar last week?"

If we catch the same blog author repeatedly blogging similar content as the next blogger, we begin to believe that one of them may have read another blogger's findings. After 'getting inspired' the blogger could have blogged his/her own wisdom, which may be very similar to the original blogger's findings. That's when we start ignoring a blogger, who we feel does not add anything new to the topic. 

Additionally, if a business owner blogs too much, we have to wonder, how  s/he finds the time to write these blogs. Does this person have a ghost writer? Whose ideas are we reading?  Lastly, in the days of e-publishing anybody can publish an ebook. Why would anybody spread his or her best knowledge for free, non stop? 

Printing money causes inflation. Sharing too much content devalues words or minimizes their effect.

When, on June 6, the CIA posted its first 'official' tweet 300K people shared it. Even the CIA's thank-you-tweet was retweeted by 15K. In the month of September the CIA tweeted about once per day and about 300 people retweeted each tweet. 

People seek the rare and special. We get excited about new ideas and concepts we have not heard yet. 
~*~

Gisela Hausmann is an award-winning author of inspirational story books including "Blogs are Like Chewing Gum - There's Got to Be Something to Chew on" She graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.

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© 2014 by Gisela Hausmann, All rights reserved.



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The #SocialMedia Spine - 5 tips for becoming a better influencer

#SocialMedia #sharing #naked 


'Social Media Spine' by Gisela Hausmann

This morning I noticed a social media friend's request asking to support one of her friends' projects. Below the posting two people had already commented, "Great Project" and "Cool :)) Thx for sharing". 

Since two people had commented within half an hour of the posting being published this project had to be interesting. I clicked the link...

It did not work. 

I tried to open the site in another browser but the link still did not work. Quickly, I sent my social-media-friend a short note, hoping that she would get to read it soon. 

What about the two people, who commented, but obviously did not try to open the link? They probably thought simply handing out praise would make them look good. But did it? 

People who post time sensitive information know this type of social media activity all too well: days after a deadline has passed, some people will still share the not-so-new-news, because they don't really look or read but only "share or retweet". Moreover, probably most of these automatic sharers' and re-tweeters' contacts already know that many of the shared postings may have expired, and events may have passed. 

Doing the right thing has power.-- Laura Linney

Here are 5 ways to become a more effective participant on social media platforms:

  1. Look at every posting before you repost (Think of it as the buckling up on the worldwide web: Always do it, just in case)                                                                                                                                                                     
  2. Don't waste your (or others) time by posting nondescript flattery, one meaningful comment will get you further than 100 uninspiring praises                                                                                                     
  3. If you don't want to share your honest opinion, don't share it at all                                                              
  4. Take the extra step if you notice a problem. Chances are your quick action will be appreciated                                                                                                                                                                         
  5. Do the right thing. Whether you do or don't use best practices to share social media content, social media will reveal it

~*~

Gisela Hausmann is the author of 15 books, including multi award-winning 'Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear'. Born in Vienna Austria, she graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Film and Mass Media from the University of Vienna.



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If you enjoyed reading this blog please share using the links at the very bottom of this blog. Thank-you!  ~~ * ~~ © 2014 by Gisela Hausmann, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#NAKED products wanted...

#naked, #books, #foods, #mindset, 



There was a time when the word 'naked' was scandalous, people did not speak of it. No author would use that word in a book title unless he wanted to raise attention, in an almost scandalous fashion.


Here are the few memorable titles from earlier days.

  • The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer, 1948  
  • The Naked Communist by W. Cleon Skousen, 1962
  • The Naked Capitalist  by W. Cleon Skousen, 1962
  • Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs, James Grauerholz, Barry Miles and David Ulin, 1964

In the first decade of the 21st century three brave people published books titled:

  • Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones by Suzanne Somers (Oct 10, 2006) 
  • Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (May 5, 2008)
  • The Naked Gospel: Truth You May Never Hear in Church by Andrew Farley (Aug 25, 2009) 
  • (At least I have not been able to find any others)

The food industry followed. Certain industries recognized that in this day and age people have a desire to digest NAKED THOUGHTS and NAKED FOODS: 'bare of any covering', 'without the customary covering, container, or protection', and 'visible to the naked eye'.

Personally, I caught on after I found out about the restaurant chain Naked Pizza. In the original edition of my book, 'Naked Determination' I wrote:

(excerpt)
NAKED Pizza. N a k e d ?  
When I first heard the name I had actually checked the dictionary, right there at the office, to see if they could use the word naked the way they did. Indeed, the dictionary had proven them right: Another definition than the typical one was, without the customary covering or bare of something.  
Wasn’t this what so many people desired in the 21st century? Yes, it was! Was that part of Naked Pizza’s incredible success? That with one single word they could relate what they were about… We had enough of flowering political phrases, swayed media, unhealthy additives… we, the people of the 21st century, like things straight forward. We like things naked because naked means bare off additives
I thought about other naked products: Naked Juice and Naked Coconut Water (I drink these juices… all the time), Bear Naked All Natural Granola… there were even Get Naked Low Calorie Biscuits for Dogs… And this was probably only the beginning… 
Could it be that naked would be the new mantra word of the 21st century?

Sadly, two of these paragraphs had to be eliminated from my book because two lawsuits, one against Naked Juice and another one against  Bear Naked, Inc. made it impossible for me to keep these words in my naked book. If my book was to be naked, I could only mention companies, who shared my spirit and understanding of the word. Thus, I replaced the paragraphs with: 
(exceprt) 
This quality, being “bare of something” is powerful and vulnerable at the same time. 
That is probably why the word naked is hardly used in typical conversations. It takes guts to say it out loud. The most unusual occasion where this word was spoken was probably Steve Jobs' famous commencement address at the distinguished University of Stanford. I knew this speech almost word by word. Steve Jobs had told graduates that if one feels naked there is no reason not to follow one's heart.... 

The good news is: more and more people share that spirit. 




Gisela Hausmann is author of the multi-award-winning book "Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear".






Below featured lists are probably not an all-inclusive lists, but I was still surprised how many book titles I could dig up easily. Please scroll down to the year 2014 to be amazed. 

'NAKED' BOOKS:

2006
  1. Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones by Suzanne Somers (Oct 10, 2006) 
2008
  1. Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (May 5, 2008)
2009
  1. The Naked Gospel: Truth You May Never Hear in Church by Andrew Farley (Aug 25, 2009) 
2010
  1. Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun by Steve Spangler, Debbie Leibold and Shawn Campbell (Sep 1, 2010) 
  2. The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides (Voices That Matter) by Garr Reynolds (Nov 29, 2010)
2011
  1. Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words by Brian D. McLaren (Mar 15, 2011) 
  2. Naked And Not Ashamed: We've Been Afraid to Reveal What God Longs to Heal by T. D. Jakes (Jul 28, 2011)

2012
  1. Naked!: How to Find the Perfect Partner by Revealing Your True Self by David Wygant (Jan 15, 2012)
  2. Naked Forex: High-Probability Techniques for Trading Without Indicators (Wiley Trading) by Alex Nekritin and Walter Peters (Jan 25, 2012)  
  3. Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear (Oct 26, 2012) 
  4. Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan (Dec 31, 2012) 
2013
  1. Naked Filmmaking: How To Make A Feature-Length Film - Without A Crew - For $10,000-$6,000 Or Less Revised & Expanded... by Mike Carroll (Apr 3, 2013) 
  2. The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen (Apr 23, 2013)
  3. The Naked Blogger - 5 Steps to successful online journal writing: How to start a blog - Become a successful blogger... by Zack Winston (Nov 10, 2013) 
2014
  1. Hot, Naked and Awake: Notes From the Burning Edge of Menopause by Erica Ferencik (Jan 4, 2014) 
  2. The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy (Jan 7, 2014)
  3. Being Naked: My Enjoyable Experiences As A Naturist by Sally Dali (Jan 20, 2014) 
  4. Don't Go To Work Naked!: Dress right for work every time, all the time: for men by Parker Geiger and Ricardo Trigueiro (Feb 21, 2014)
  5. Naked: The mystery of openness in marriage by Noruwa J Edokpolo (Mar 7, 2014) 
  6. Naked at the Podium: The Writer's Guide to Successful Readings: How to use drama as a tool to give dynamic readings... by Peter Kahle and Melanie Workhoven (Mar 25, 2014)
  7. Get Naked in the Kitchen: Healthy Recipes That Are Proud To Bare It All by Briana Santoro (Apr 3, 2014)
  8. Naked Emperors: Criticisms of English Contemporary Art by Brian Sewell (Apr 13, 2014) 
  9. Naked: Stripped by a Man and Hurricane Katrina by Julie Freed (Apr 17, 2014) 
  10. The Naked Jesus: A Journey Out of Christianity and into Christ by John Casimir O'Keefe (Jun 2, 2014)
  11. Naked: Botanical Recipes for Healthy Skin by Elaine Sheff (Jun 3, 2014) 
  12. Still Naked: Thoughts and Feelings of a Dedicated Naturist by Sally Dali (Jun 22, 2014)
  13. Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence by Leah DeCesare (Jul 8, 2014) 
  14. Naked Feet Leadership: Real People Leading in Extraordinary Ways by Lisa Shasky and Cyndi Streid (Jul 25, 2014) 
  15. The Naked Socialist: Socialism Taught with The 5000 Year Leap Principles (The Naked Series Book 3) by Paul B. Skousen, Mrs. W. Cleon Skousen and Arnold Friberg (Aug 7, 2014) 
  16. Naked in the Wind: Chemo, hairloss and deceit by Shirley Ledlie (Aug 11, 2014)
  17. The Naked CEO: The Truth You Need to Build a Big Life by Alex Malley (Dec 16, 2014)

Award-winning Gisela Hausmann is the author of 15 books. Born in Vienna Austria, she graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Film and Mass Media from the University of Vienna.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What would Robin Williams say, if he could have 10 seconds on air, right now?


You miss him, I miss him, the world misses him, his friends, and most importantly, his family misses him, more than any of us can imagine. 

Robin Williams was sooo funny! My late husband was so funny too. I remember seeing with my own eyes, when at a get-together two people fell off their chairs, while laughing about my late husband's jokes.

Robin Williams was outspoken. He packaged important messages into funny words. 

Depression is a terrible condition.  It makes people want to be quiet, not talk, not move, not do anything. 

I have had depression, after my husband's death, though it was not clinical depression.

Many people around us are a little bit depressed. Many people are lonely, including some of our friends. 

Here is what helps: Never ask "What happened?" Talk about something in the future, something good, that will be coming... There always will be something. Friends can help people with light depression by helping them to believe. To overcome light depression people have to focus on good things coming. They have to gain a positive outlook. If that does not happen, many light depressions can add up to big depression.

I believe if Robin Williams could come back for 10 seconds, he would say: "Call that friend you haven’t heard from in weeks, or even months… Take him out, talk about something in the future... If the friend does not want to go out, say 'You don't have to dress up, we are just going to a burger joint'..."

It is not about big action, it's about calling and sharing a moment in time, focus on a future, which becomes an option again because of your call.
 ~*~

Gisela Hausmann is an award-winning author of inspirational story books. She graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.
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Friday, July 18, 2014

The easiest Path to Success = Reducing Opportunities to Fail

#success, #determination,

'A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step'. Lao Tzu

While that is true, most of us find that “keep walking the path” is a lot harder than “starting the journey”. Trying to lose weight is an excellent example. It is a goal millions of people aim for. Everybody, who goes to a gym, knows that January 5th is the busiest day of the year at gyms nationwide.. Only a month later everything is as it always was. What happened to the New Year’s resolutions? Why did so many people give up? I think it is because they are making things too difficult for themselves. 

One of my friends took a different approach. Akila is one of my Egyptian friends in Vienna, Austria. We spent a lot of time together in the Eighties. 

“Wow”, I noticed one day, “You look great! How much weight did you lose?” 

“23 lbs in the last six weeks!” Akila announced proudly. 

“How did you do that so quickly… Which diet did you do?” 

“Oh, diets are too complicated for me,” Akila said, “all I did was to cut the appetizers, and I now walk the stairs to our apartment instead of taking the elevator.” 

To understand how perfect this concept was, one has to know a bit about Akila’s lifestyle. Her Egyptian family was very social. Every other weekend they had some kind of get-together or attended one of their friends’ parties. As customary in their home country, tables were always loaded with tasty appetizers, to be followed by an excellent dinner. 

Akila decided to simply pass on the appetizers. That allowed her to still have dinner with her friends and not appear anti-social. Honoring her home country’s culture at the time, Akila did not join a gym, where most members dressed like Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta in the movie “Perfect” (1985). She also substituted the Stairmaster by walking real stairs a few times per day. 

Akila’s success came from the decision to create her own two simple rules, which she could follow easily. Had Akila decided to skip the great parties she might have felt isolated. Had she decided to enroll into a gym, she (or her parents) might have felt uncomfortable. Both of these feelings deter all of us from following through, even if we do take the first step

Achieving solid and continuing success is a lot about reducing opportunities to fail.

Tailoring your action plan to your lifestyle:

  • puts YOU in charge of your destiny rather than some program, whose creator knows nothing about you and your lifestyle
  • gives you the opportunity to avoid personal issues, which is a requirement for lasting change

So, if you feel intimidated by men with ripped six-packs don’t buy a membership at a gym, but maybe start rowing, which you can do alone, on a lake. 

If you hate working for a corporate giant, but aren’t sure that you really want to run your own business, don’t overcome the hurdle of actually starting your own business, but hire at a small business, where you’ll have more space (and influence) than in the cubicle at your old workplace. 

Here is an interesting detail, which is not too well known:

Lao-Tzu’s famous quote is not a correct translation. The exact translation is:

"The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet."

The space “beneath your feet” is your space. Lao-Tzu meant to say we have to start our journeys from our turf.
~*~

Gisela Hausmann is an award-winning author of inspirational story books.She graduated with a masters degree in Arts of Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.
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© 2014 by Gisela Hausmann, All rights reserved.