Growing pains…your business, your brand, your results!

Like you, I’ve started a business – as a matter of fact, two LLCs and two not-for-profits. Like you, I experienced the pains of the start-up, including idea to inception, finance, brand, and more.

There are three key processes that we all need, and those are

  • Management
  • Strategy
  • Operations

All of these are tightly integrated. The management process provides a framework for hiring, training and managing people to get results. The strategic process defines your short-term, as well as long-term goals, where you want to take your business (earnings, sales, and revenues), and how you will get there. The operational process provides the roadmap, tools, and resources for getting there.

Think GPS! – you plug it in, or bring it up on your device, and it takes you where you want to go. It systematically takes you to your final, or perhaps interim, destination.

Let’s consider these examples:

  • McDonalds – not the most-healthy, but certainly systematized
  • Nordstrom – why does it work, often better than the competition?
  • Costco – what makes it consistent across markets?

They are very different businesses; yet, the common denominator among them is a system – and that is something that took me years to learn in my own business. How far could you go in your life, on the highway, or in your business without a map- without clear goals, short and long-term goals.

Like you, I started a business or two, and early on, perhaps you also utilized fly by the seat of your pants management. Maybe you worked in your business rather than on your business, or perhaps you managed by exception.

What I know is that Integration, Standardization, and a Steam-lined System yield Results!


  1. Replication
  2. Charting the organizational process
  3. Acculturation
  4. Operations based on guiding principles
  5. Consistency reduces risk and uncertainty
  6. Success often comes from simplicity


  1. Analyze each process
  2. Identify gaps
  3. Develop a process
  4. Nurture cooperation
  5. Establish performance benchmarks
  6. Roll out the plan
  7. Monitor and evaluate progress
  8. Consider outsourcing what cannot be done in-house

Streamlining the Systems

  1. Analyze your steps
  2. Identify gaps in efficiency and productivity
  3. Develop a solid plan to redesign and formalize processes
  4. Nurture relationships with partners, investors, managers, and employees
  5. Prepare for change
  6. Establish performance benchmarks


I understand how you feel and what you are thinking. I, too, felt overwhelmed by what needed to get done. I found, and documented in B is for Balance, 2nd edition, that you need to recognize the need for help, know when to ask for it, and understand how to use it. You are not alone! Nor, do you have to go it alone; you’ve got a friend, a peer, and several of them – ask me how!

This content was originally shared, live, with #EPWNG.


Downtime…should you recharge?

Your phone dies; you plug it in and recharge it!

Your computer slows down; you delete extra backups, restore, and more!

Your body fails you, and what do you do? Can you change the batteries, recharge it, or take it in for assessment and repairs?

Perhaps this is a signal – and it is time for a “‘creative pause”’ or disengagement. Our need for belonging is cited in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Think of how it would feel to stop belonging for a few minutes of your time, to forget your “‘followers”’ for 30- to 60 minutes, or to stop ‘liking’ every post that you see merely because it is indicative of belonging. Downtime is a good thing! When was the last time that you took “downtime” or that much-needed “creative pause?” If, and when you did, did you feel guilty for your lack of productivity?

What was the impact on your work, your relationships, your health? Did you find joy in the moment, and the satisfaction that comes from doing something for yourself? Did you take criticism from your colleagues, your family, your friends? Did you openly take that coveted downtime, or sneak a peak between heavy work schedules? How did that make you feel?

We can push our bodies and our minds just so far before they will fail us. The time has never been better – for that coveted downtime! So, smile, smell the roses, enjoy the fresh air, and unplug from the system that is wasting your personal batteries!

“At least once a week, I try to have one day where I have nothing planned so I can get up and just go back to bed and lay around and recharge my batteries.”               Dolph Lundgren


Let’s buy a new car!

NEGOTIATE:  A New Year …let the negotiating begin! What will it be for you: childcare, salary, a new car, travel, or a new you? We begin by sharing the tools and techniques we’ve generated over a lifetime of negotiating and public speaking. We’ve had great success with our new book, Go for It…Mastering Negotiations; it has received 5-star ratings on Amazon and is a resource for many of our readers and followers. Each month, I’ll post a new blog based on the book. We’ll cover the following:

Negotiation 101: kids, cars and life

Self-Awareness: why we are different and how it affects outcomes

Optimizing Style: image matters

Stress and Negotiations: burnout, boundaries, and beliefs

Relationships: work, family, culture and more

Preparing for Negotiation: legal, sports

Strategies: real estate, academia and marriage

Influence: position and power

What If? Consensus and walking away

Getting to All-Win: what now

Closing the Deal: terms and conditions

What the Survey Says: It’s not Family Feud, it’s real life

Pick and choose what works best for you; explore how you might integrate some of these ideas into your own negotiating style. It’s a New Year…let the negotiating begin, and let it be a win-all.

It’s January, so let’s buy a car!

We have each, at one time or another, purchased an automobile. Maybe, like an informed healthcare consumer, you have searched the web, you know the value of the car you want, you have checked the apps online that share the current value — and you are prepared for the encounter with the new or used-car salesperson.

Historically, car dealers take a bad ride — no pun intended. Let’s face it; their reputations are not stellar. The consumer often thinks that they are being taken advantage of and that they will leave — with or without the car — an unhappy camper.

You see the ‘come-on’ ad in the newspaper or on TV; of course, the car offered at that fantastic price is the basic model. If you want heated seats, navigation, parking assistance and more — you will pay more for the ‘options.’ Yes, it does seem as if everything and anything is a possible option. The model that you saw on the showroom floor is loaded with options, and the car that you take for a test drive may also be loaded with options. You level with the salesman, sharing what you must have, as well as what you would like to have, and he or she offers a price. Of course, the price is much more than you intended to spend, even though you initially shared a budget.

You strategically change your list; perhaps those must-haves are not as essential after all, and perhaps you can settle. Again, you are offered a price, and again, the sales person will discuss it with the financial manager to ensure that the price is ‘final’ and the ‘best that they can do.’ After all, they are barely making a penny on the sale!

You are not the new kid on the block. You have been buying cars since before Joe Salesman was born. You have been around the block, and more importantly, you are not afraid to walk away from the offer and the deal.

What did the salesman fail to do?

  • Listen
  • Communicate
  • Be honest
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Understand
  • Affirm

The salesman made multiple mistakes, beginning with a misunderstanding of basic negotiations.


A New Year with new commitments, or rehashing old ones!

It is New Year’s Day, and perhaps you completed your list of resolutions, rehashed or repurposed those from last year, or you are simply wondering where to begin!  This is a good day, and a good time, to revisit the subject of balance. After all, life is indeed a delicate balancing act!

Are you improving the world, or are you enjoying it? Perhaps you are able to juggle well and do both, and then again, perhaps not! We all know that life gets in the way, and we all know that we need balance. From the mailroom to the board room, we all need balance, and we need it sooner rather than later.

Know your Limitations

Are you an assertive type who finds it easy to say “no”? Or, are you a selfless type who takes on more than you can possibly handle? Negotiate for workplace balance by knowing yourself and your limitations, and remember that “no” can be a complete sentence. This means that it’s perfectly acceptable to say “no” without any further explanation. As a matter of fact, “no” can be the best time management tool that you have!

How to Seek Help

Successful, balanced professionals are not afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help from time to time, and reaching out is an admirable skill. Be acutely aware of the stressors in your schedule and in your life. Know thyself first! Manage yourself, and take advantage of counseling, coaches, professional peers, mentors and more.

Finding Focus

For one day, notice how often you are not focusing on the task at hand. For example, during a phone call, are you thinking of what you have to do after you are done with the call? Are you straightening the clutter on your desk as you listen to a coworker?

So, how is your year going so far?  What- it just started and you are still recovering from last year and more specifically- last night!  Are you ready for balance? Reflect on these thoughts, and experience balance firsthand!

  • No one knows you better than you; work that to your advantage
  • Become a master of efficiency
  • Identify those areas of life most important for your well-being
  • Know your limits and empower yourself to balance
  • Make 2018 the year that you experience the balancing act

When the Patient is a Nurse

Many of my nurse colleagues have been both patient and nurse at one time or another. Frankly, while you might think that it is nice to relax on the opposite site of the bed for once and have someone care for you, and perhaps for some it is, I find it an uncomfortable position in which to find myself. That is especially true if the hospitalization involves anything invasive like a blood draw, an IV line, or yes, a Foley.  I find myself wondering (almost aloud) about the technique. If I am lightly sedated prior to the procedure, I won’t be able to monitor technique and prevent a possible mishap.  If I am wide awake during the procedure, I may be horrified at what I see – like a simple alcohol swab for an infusion, following by fanning and blowing (recirculation of droplet bacteria), and then inserting the catheter while dragging the superfluous alcohol along the wall of the vein. When I am told that the professional inserting the line is an ‘expert,’ I wonder ‘according to whom or to what standards’?  When the tourniquet is placed so tightly that arterial blood is constricted, I frankly worry.

Are we all like me? Do my nurse peers also worry about the outcomes of care, the possible side effects of procedures gone awry, or a blood stream infection?  Is it possible to be relaxed when the nurse working a 12-hour shift is clearly unfamiliar with the electronic medical record, or tells you that the reason the infusion pump is beeping is because the infusion is complete (although from your pillow you can see 650 ml left in the bag)? Perhaps it is my desire to be in control that prevents me from enjoying the experience of being in the bed, rather than beside it. Perhaps it is my desire to avoid negative outcomes and to regain my health as quickly and uneventfully as possible that precludes me from relaxing.

If you have been both patient and nurse, I’d love to hear your spin on the situation.


What does your headshot say about you?

We’ve all been there; we look at those headshots and wonder if they were taken in high school. We see the LinkedIn or other social media post, and we know that the person in the photo does not resemble the person we know.

How do we make a great first impression knowing that a photo says a thousand words – about us, that is?

How do you want to look, and more importantly, how do you want to be perceived? Is your photo of you alone, or with family, friends, kids or a pet? What are you wearing; are you dressing the part?

Consider these tips for your headshot photo to attract interest and business connections:

  • Background- make it count, in an office, boardroom, classroom, or on stage
  • Attire- let your attire reflect your position, with a jacket/suit, dress, or whatever your industry demands
  • Color- black and white creates a dramatic tone, but it is not as flattering as color

In my coaching/consulting/speaking space, my face is my brand. As a brand, I commission new photos every 18 months; I want the photo that my clients see to look like the professional presenter delivering their keynote. I want my own photo to reflect the authenticity of a Certified Speaking Professional.

What about you? Is your photo up-to-date, and what does it say about you? Does it exude calm confidence, a business demeanor, and a sense of influence? It is really you, or a favorite holdover from years ago?

First impressions do count! Are you ready for that first, and ongoing, impression?

First things first!

First things first – do you agree? When it comes to time management, Stephen Covey recommends first anchoring the “big rocks” into your schedule, then filling in the remaining space with the less important pebbles, and then sand. He shares that you will then have room left for plenty of water, even when your container is full of rocks, pebbles and sand. The key, according to Covey, is to decide what your big rocks are and put those first things first.

For me, the big rocks always were, and will be, family.  I learned my lesson when I missed a family event, and I vowed to never let that happen again. Think about what comes first in your own life; what matters most?  What message are you sending – at work, at home, in relationships, and wherever it matters most? In the big picture we know as life, placement of our rocks does matter. My own rocks are in the form of work, family, relationships, and health. They all matter, but work will wait (yes, even with deadlines), and family will wait (but perhaps unhappily). Are you willing to re-organize your rocks, your priorities, to put first things first, and to do what it takes to balance your work and your life?  My missed event in life opened my eyes to the possibility of balance. Balance does require adjustment; consider the adjustments needed when you are riding a bike. We all experience a new mishaps or falls. We look back on those experiences and wonder, “What if…I had done it differently?”  Do you look back on how you spend your time, on your priorities with a smile or a frown? In the words of Lucille Ball, “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

Now is the time to put first things first!

Respite…for staff, yes! At work, of course!

Stress is overwhelming, and workplace stress has become a ‘given.’  We can overcome that stress by creating an internal respite center whose goal is to provide a safe, calm place in which nurses can regain momentum, renew the spirit and refresh themselves.  I’ve had the privilege of creating such centers in global locations; these are possible amenities:


  • Light
  • Air
  • Eye masks for dimming light
  • Healthy snacks
  • Healthy choices
  • Workout area including adjacent paths and exercise room on-site
  • Adjustable heating and ventilation
  • Noise levels controlled
  • Ergometrics
  • Room size approximately 30 x 30
  • 4 comfortable chairs with ottomans or recliners


  • Massage tables
  • Filtered water system
  • Control of lighting
  • Dark room as needed
  • Safe setting
  • Lockers
  • Showers nearby

Consistent recognition and rewards for success:

  • Attention, praise, and rewards are given for wellness achievements
  • Values placed on wellness
  • Values on lifestyle improvements/enhancements
  • PTO for achieving success
  • Wellness mentors/mentees
  • Peer modeling

Managers model healthy behaviors:

  • Walk the walk and talk the talk
  • Weight management
  • Weight watchers on-site
  • Solidarity
  • Flexibility

Ongoing health promotion:

  • Consistency
  • Orientation for new students/staff
  • Participation 100%
  • Health calendar emphasis (national health holidays, i.e., diabetes, vision, heart, cancer)
  • Benefits of good health
  • Ease of access
  • Lifestyle changes

The opportunity to create a workplace-based respite center is a privilege; it can have a long-term effect on productivity, health, and balance.

Life Balance…it is what we do and who we are!

Do you think, and act, globally?

Think globally in terms of our own country…today the nurse is a global nurse, and we are all global patient experience champions simply because the patient demographics are so diverse and so multicultural.

For over 12 years, I worked throughout Eastern Europe, creating the infrastructure for the health systems of the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union.  The infrastructure was complex and although nurses were recognized as nurses, they were not licensed in many areas, and they had no voice in the patient care experience.

As nurses, we define the patient experience.  And, as nurse leaders, we must reshape our goals to address the overall patient experience, rather than HCAHPS measures alone.  How do we accomplish this? We create a framework to govern staff behaviors including 1) cultivating an environment of caregiver empathy; overcoming common pitfalls, including unmet needs, unclear next steps for a patient and their families, and disruptions in care, and 3) identifying institution-specific needs through interaction with former staff and patients.

Healthcare is a business; the difference between healthcare and any other business is that the commodities with which we deal are human lives and human happiness – neither of which should ever be compromised.  Healthcare consumers are often thought of as ‘customers’ – yet they are so much more than customers because their access to goods and services is trust-dependent.  Unfortunately, each of us is a potential patient, and some of us have already experienced and survived the healthcare experience.

The topic of patient experience is not new; what is new is our perception. Consider what’s in and what’s out:

What’s In What’s Out
– transparency – hotel amenities alone will no longer drive experience
– teamwork – a commercial approach
– communication and the new script for nursing – the flavor of the month
– therapeutic relationships – customer service
– a global community of caregivers and patients – tunnel vision
– patient empowerment – enabling patients
– metrics – guesswork based on surveys

Can we care, literally, for the world, and make it a good experience?  Yes, we can!  Is it a “Yes, we can process” within your organization?  If yes, to what do you attribute your success? If not, what actions will you take to facilitate change?





Are you a dreamer?

Often, people dream big dreams and have great aspirations. These are waking dreams, planned-for dreams, the kind of dreams sometimes referred to as ambition. Are you one of those people? Are you a dreamer?

You might know the names of many successful dreamers, those whose actions made their dreams come true because you see them frequently in the media. Here are some examples:

  • Barack Obama was the first African-American elected to be president of the United States.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks hockey team led the season in 2013 and went on to win the prized Stanley Cup by scoring two goals within 17 seconds during the last minute and 37 seconds of the game.
  • Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 2014 ice dancing gold medalists at the Sochi Olympics, gave the United States its first ice dancing medal. Meryl was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade and struggled with reading until the eleventh grade. Her learning disability did not hold her back from pursuing her life’s purpose – skating.
  • Oprah Winfrey is an internationally syndicated talk-show host and media mogul who is ranked among the most powerful people in history.
  • The Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016.

This list could go on and on. We all have heroes or heroines who inspire and motivate us, and not all of them make the evening news or even their local, weekly newspapers. These people are no less successful as dreamers because they haven’t become the president of the United States or won Olympic medals. What makes someone a dreamer is the ability to envision a possibility for the future and then make that vision a reality, one step at a time.

Are you dreaming your dream? Are you a dreamer?

 “He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life,” – Virgina Woolf

I am a dreamer. With calm confidence, I encourage others, through my own story, to thrive and survive! Forget tragedy and setbacks. Forget the fact that you were told you would never amount to anything! Begin to dream again; begin to live an exquisite life, believe in yourself, embrace vulnerability, and live your dreams!

Career Coaching…for nurses

How’s your career?  How’s your job? Is it time for a change?

Career building is a life-long endeavor and having a nurse/coach is the first step toward creating your future.  Has your path led you to a forked road where “straight ahead” is no longer an option?   Perhaps this is a personal choice or because the organization has changed and your skills no longer fit the new business focus. Or, are you merely at a crossroads where you can continue on your present course, but want to consider the options those other directions offer?  Regardless of what brought you to your present place, it may be time to step back, take a deep breath, and reflect on a new vision of what a career might mean for you.

Going Forward or Stepping Back

Realizing you need change to get out of your rut is the first step. Once you’re there, spend some time thinking about which direction you want to go. Do you want to change into a new career? Stay in the same career but move forward into a promotion? Stay in the same career but move backward into a prior job that you enjoyed, was more meaningful, and that was less stressful? Segue into an “unjob” (contract, freelance, or self-employment work) or put your career on hold (sabbatical or leave of absence) while you explore those things you always wanted to do that offer zero or minimal financial compensation. Take the time to reflect on how your life purpose and your dreams should direct your career choices.  And yes, it could mean redefining yourself as a nursing professional.

What kind of work and work setting excite you?  What would give you great joy in the workplace?  Do you prefer to work alone, or as a part of a team?  What steps have you taken thus far to change your situation and what is your timeline for a change?  Put yourself in a position in which resignation is a good choice, rather than a desperate one.

Consider a nurse coach to help you reflect, and redirect!

Nursing is a wonderful career and an honorable profession; new opportunities offer alternatives for you as a nursing professional.




Flip a coin – or follow Phil?

The day was simply delightful; shorts seemed to be the norm as we appreciated yet another beautiful day in Bethesda, MD.  Later that day, the meteorologists predicted cold temperatures and a massive snowstorm that would shutter schools, government buildings, and more.

The meteorologist: the only job that permits you to be incorrect 50% of the time and still get paid 100% of your salary.  What would happen if you were wrong 50% of the time? How would that affect outcomes, safety, and productivity in your job?

Did today’s weather change because of Punxsutawney Phil?  As luck would have it, Phil has a 47% accuracy rate.  If you flip a coin, you’ll probably be right 50% of the time. What does that mean this winter?  You’d be better off flipping a coin than following Phil’s predictions or the meteorologist’s forecast.

Are you ready for six more weeks of winter?

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