Jan Bolick

Do a Grouch a Favor

One of my favorite days to celebrate and promote is Do a Grouch a Favor Day.  Yes – there really is such a thing.  And it’s tomorrow. I’ve always wondered why the creators of this occasion chose February 16 as the date to celebrate.  Is it because more people are grouchy two days after Valentine’s Day?  From too much candy?  Or because they got no candy?  Or because he gave her flowers and gave them to another woman too, like in the movie Valentines Day? Whatever the reason for date selection, the short list of possible reasons from above serves as an important reminder that when someone acts grouchy toward you or me, it’s probably not about you or me.   More likely, it’s because something or someone else punched him in the gut, broke her heart or simply spoiled a moment. Hopefully that grouch will be better tomorrow but if not, how about doing him or her a favor?  That may be all he needs to snap out of it and many people besides him will likely benefit. Perhaps you could offer to help with an overwhelming task. Or say thank you for whatever he does for your business. Or simply avoid the tendency to grouch back. Or how about giving her a smile, a compliment or a lollipop? Or how about some Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snacks for only...

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Happy Duke-Carolina Day

Some treat it like a national holiday.  Meetings get cancelled.  People head home early.  Traditions abound. One of my traditions for Duke-Carolina Day is to re-visit the story of that especially famous game back in 1974.  Not just because it’s famous, but also because of its benefit for people in business who are frequently faced with tough goals and deadlines.   Many managers, teams and individuals give up or stop too soon.  I’ve certainly done it many times. Pushing to the end (and preparing for it) is both an art and a science.  Well demonstrated in the story below. Several years ago, I had the pleasure of talking with former Carolina basketball player and coach, Phil Ford.  We were looking  lessons from basketball that could be applied in business.  It was fascinating.  So many parallels, so many instructional and inspirational lessons, that the interview became the basis for a mini-audio e-book for business. At one point during the interview, when we were talking about the importance of preparation and practice, I asked Phil about that famous aforementioned game. At the time, he had committed to Carolina but was still a senior in high school and was watching it at home on television.  With only seventeen seconds left in the game, Carolina  was losing by eight points.   Most everyone thought it was over.  Phil certainly did.   In fact, he turned off the television and...

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The Power of a Mosquito

The Chapel Hill 2020 process is flying by with discussions, workshops, presentations, report out sessions packed onto the calendar.  All focused on developing a plan for an even better Chapel Hill.   I’ve had the pleasure of co-facilitating one of the theme groups  with Gary Saleeby & Marlene Rifkin.  Through much discussion, the group has  established three primary goals, one of which is to foster the success of local business. Why is it important to have successful business in Chapel Hill?  Reasons listed during various discussions include: To provide jobs for citizens. To provide job diversity and hopefully higher paying jobs. To provide basic needs for residents, so they shop here instead of elsewhere. If they shop elsewhere, Chapel Hill loses the tax revenue. If Chapel Hill gets the tax revenue, there is less reliance on residential property tax. So that we don’t have “ghost” centers. To bring energy/vibrancy to the community. To retain a creative youthful population. To protect and support UNC & UNC hospital (a major driver of the local economy). Successful business & business owners can contribute or give back more to the community Now that the group has determined these goals, the next step is to develop strategies and action plans. I’m writing today to say “Help!!!” Google says there are over 11,000 businesses in Chapel Hill.    There are approximately 8000 businesses listed in the...

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Furniture & More For Less

Just because your budget has been cut, doesn’t mean you can’t get what you need to operate your business and maybe even grow revenue so that your budget won’t be so tight in the future. That is – IF you know about UNC Surplus.       UNC Surplus is like a gigantic yard sale except there’s a roof and it’s ongoing. Their stock changes constantly, but they always have chairs. Some are on wheels. Some aren’t. Some have arms. Some don’t. Some have soft bottoms. Some don’t. Some look relatively new. Some don’t. Some are one of a kind. Some aren’t. But every chair has the same price. $10. You see that black chair midway back? Behind the yellow one? While I was there, two women dug through and found about 10 of those. I could just imagine them around a conference table, brainstorming a new product or pitching their company to a potential investor. 10 chairs for $100. What a find! They always have file cabinets too – ranging from $40 to $50. Brand new, the price would be more like $200-300. Other regular items include desks (from $15-40), shelves, CPU’s, monitors, projectors, printers, phones and keyboards ($1 each). Back in August they had an entire table of Nike shoes. In very large sizes. Like size 20!  Almost twice the size anyone in my house wears.   I...

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Lessons from Ben & Jerry's

“The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one.” Elbert Hubbard Did you celebrate with Jerry last week? In case you missed the scoop, he was in town (that’s him, THE Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s, on the right) to celebrate the grand re-opening of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.     Ramses and hundreds of others waited in line to celebrate with free samples of ice cream and – here’s a twist – pretzels.  Yes they now sell pretzels too.  Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.     Links at bottom of page will take you to more fun photos and info about the celebration – providing a glimpse at many good business practices like making things fun, giving back to the community, and trying new things – like selling pretzels. Here’s another fabulous Ben & Jerry’s best practice that isn’t obvious from visiting the Chapel Hill store but the impact of it is reflected there – perhaps in the pretzels. I found out about it when Art and I toured the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Vermont. We spent most of our time in the graveyard where I was like a kid in a candy store – odd and slightly inappropriate behavior for a graveyard. Surrounded by a white picket fence, there were rows and rows of tombstones – perhaps thirty in all –...

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Rich Wives and Golden Geese

Chapelboro reader, Julie Budd from Budd Marketing in Burlington, was driving down the road and saw a man at the intersection of I-40 and Highway 68. He was holding a sign that in her words, “made me chuckle”. It also reminded her of a recent article and request for fun and interesting signs ( See: Five Favorite Signs from 2011 – link below.) And so Julie stopped and, with his permission, took this picture and sent it to me. Julie referred to him as “clever”. He is clever indeed. With his sign, he makes light of a tough situation, making it more likely for people to pay attention to him and his message instead of turning away due to embarrassment or discomfort. His sign also reminded me of a networking concept learned long ago through membership in BNI. About golden eggs and golden geese. Instead of continuing to stand on the corner every day asking for golden eggs (a little money from a passerby here and there), this man is asking for a golden goose (a rich wife). A golden egg is any new customer or client. Very valuable. Even more valuable would be to find a golden goose or a referral partner which is a steady provider of golden eggs. When we have a golden goose, we can spend less time scrambling for eggs, and instead, concentrate on...

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Fire Department Shows Signs of Good Business

Like many of us, the Chapel Hill Fire Department puts up a wreath as part of their holiday décor.  For the past ten years, theirs has included a sign which shows many signs of good business.    Chief Deputy Matt Lawrence is in charge of the “Keep the Wreath Green” campaign designed to remind citizens of the dangers of the holiday season and to urge them to do their part in preventing deadly home fires.   To help citizens do their part, the fire department pumps out information – online, in the media and at Christmas tree lots. Sure.  Sure.  We think we know all that stuff.But it’s a hectic time and all it takes is one hurried holiday moment.   Lawrence says, “It’s a terrible thing to go through at any time, but especially during the holidays.”   When it went up on December 1, the wreath was covered in green lights.   It stayed green for 21 days.   On December 22, there was an apartment fire which was quickly extinguished.  One green bulb on the wreath was replaced with a red one.   On December 23, there was another apartment fire, also quickly extinguished.  Another green bulb on the wreath was replaced with a red one.     When the wreath came down yesterday, there were still just two red bulbs.     The “Keep the Wreath...

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Five Favorite Signs from 2011

Stop.    Do Not Enter.   One Way.   Dead End.   No Parking.   No Trespassing. Do not disturb.   Cash Only.   No refunds.   So many signs.  Most of them negative.   Limiting.   Restrictive. Reminds me of that song from the early 70’s by Five Man Electrical Band:  Sign, sign, everywhere a sign Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign? How refreshing it is to see a positive sign.  One with good news.  One that shows care and concern.  Maybe even with a clever  or inspiring twist.   Like these five spotted in Chapelboro this year. What a treat to go pay the meter before heading in to a restaurant  on West Franklin Street and find this festive holiday cover. In case you can’t read the small print, it says:   FREE Off Street Parking This Saturday! Extra bonus – it was a Friday. As I stood there to take this photo, three other people came up to pay and each one had a similar response – Wow!  Free Parking!     I even heard a bit of chatter about it once inside the restaurant.   Thank you , Town of Chapel Hill for the holiday treat. And what about this sign which marks a space by the front entrance at VIETRI, Inc in Hillsborough? Very clever.   To understand the...

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Simple Question. New Ending.

Tis the season for strategic planning and holiday cooking – a perfect time to share this story as a reminder that a simple question can change the way we do business. Or the way we cook a ham. A year or so ago, Terry Hamlet, President of S.H. Basnight & Sons, and I were working on a project, looking for a way to get different results. As we explored, she recalled the day her mother, Dot Hogan Basnight was showing her how to cook a ham. One of the steps was to cut the end off of the ham before putting it in the pan. Terry asked, “Why do we do that?” Her mother said, “I’m not sure. That’s just the way my mother did it.” So Terry went to ask her Grandmother the reason for cutting off the end of the ham. Grandma’s response? “Because it didn’t fit in the pan.” Apparently Mrs. Basnight didn’t have a bigger pan, so making the ham smaller was a good solution at the time. One that became standard procedure for many years – even when there were smaller hams and larger pans in the kitchen. Terry’s simple question changed the way her family cooked a ham. And led to a new ending for the end of the ham. Now Terry and I weren’t cooking a ham that day, but the question...

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If you were CEO…

Whether you own a business, run a business, work in a business or shop in Chapelboro businesses… What do you like about doing business in Chapelboro? What do you wish were different?  You might think of it this way – compared to other cities or towns in which you have lived or done business, what is missing in Chapelboro?  And finally – if you were CEO of the Chapelboro business community, what would you do to make Chapelboro a better place to do business – while also making it a better place to live, work and play? Your answers to such questions could provide material for us to discuss in future “Good Business” articles and a forum for collective improvement. Such input could also make a significant difference in the plan for Chapel Hill’s future.  The development of that plan is underway right now.  You may have heard about Vision 2020 – a process that started in September.  The next meeting will be Thursday, December 1, from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Frank Porter Graham Elementary School (101 Smith Level Road).  The agenda for this meeting includes the start of setting goals and strategies to support various vision statements that have been created.   I hope you will join in the discussion.  You can do so in a number of ways. Attend the December 1 meeting. Visit  www.chapelhill2020.org  or...

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