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Inspire, Inform & Educate

january 2011

47

Edition

Building your BRAND

INSIDE

The Success Model of Greatness: 3 Principles to Make Your Own Success Happen By Nickcole Byrd Goal Setting and Strategic planning for the Entrepreneurs New Year. PAGE 6

And the reason you don’t have a website? By Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant Ways to make sure your businesses online presence is working for you. PAGE 7

Attorney Taft L. Foley II & MR. D-MARS

“A business based on brand is, very simply, a business primed for success.”

MR. D-MARS & ?????????? Satisfied Customers Make the Brand: Not Money! By Dr. D. L. Jones Effective advertising and brand building for small and medium size companies. PAGE 23

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Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

Shirley H. Hopkins Allnsure

Joi-Lin Hunt The Hunt Law Group

Stephanie G. Lee All State

By Christopher P. Kirksey Editor-in-Chief

See pg. 8

Ten suggestions for building a stronger personal brand. PAGE 30

Fred Hoyer Bayway Lincoln Mercury

Lisa Moore 360 Hair Studio

Terry Peden T&T Liquors


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Publisher’s Message

Keith J. Davis, Sr. SR. PUBLISHER Keith J. Davis, Sr. VICE PRESIDENT Kevin Davis JR. PUBLISHER Keith J. Davis, Jr. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Christopher P. Kirksey EDITING CONSULTANT ReShonda Tate-Billingsley ACCOUNTING MANAGER Eugenie Doualla SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Mike Jones C.T. Foster PHOTOGRAPHY Leon Galbreath Grady Carter MARKETING CONSULTANTS Johnny Ray Davis, Jr. MULTIMEDIA DIRECTOR Andrea Hennekes LAYOUT & GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Ghuzzala Malik (Faith) Myron Davis DISTRIBUTION Booker T. Davis, Jr. Johnny Ray Davis, Jr. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Christie Wilson Nickcole Byrd Lisa Matthews-Martin Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant Kola Sonaike Dr. D. L. Jones Shari Wright Marilyn Logan William J. Lynott Noel Pinnock Rachel Bishop Frederick Richards Christopher P. Kirksey

As a business owner and a consumer, we encounter brands daily. It is important to understand the power of building your brand and use it effectively. With the bringing in of the New Year, businesses should renew their focus on “Building Your Brand”. That is why this months articles will offer tips on brand building that will emphasize the importance of your brand and explain different aspects that contribute to it. It is easy to lose sight of your businesses mission and goals if it is not perpetuated into your everyday branding strategies. I am positive that after reading this month’s journal you will be equipped with the necessary tools to ensure that your brand is a successful and a lasting one. Continue to support our new and existing advertisers. It is because of them that we are able to inspire, educate, and inform. Thank you for your support!

CONTENTS Attorney Taft L. Foley II The New 6 Million Dollar Man……………………... 4 The Success Model of Greatness:……....................................................... 6 Reinventing the Brand………………………………………………………….. 6 And the reason you don’t have a website?................................................. 7 Observational Study in The Workplace……………………………………….. 8 Does your business card build your brand?................................................ 13 Getting Ready for a Job Fair? 10 tips to prepare for success…….............. 14 Brand building can quickly boost your income………………….................. 15 UnitedHealthcare Advertorial Submission #2……………………………...... 21 Managing Emergencies Adequately…………………………………….......... 22 Is it time to work for yourself?..................................................................... 22 Satisfied Customers make the brand: Not Money!...................................... 23 Tips for Mobile Phone Protection…………………………………………....... 29 Social Media is the new resume frontier…………………………………....... 29 Ten Ways to Build Your Personal Brand...................................................... 30 Questions & Answers with the Money Lady………………………………...... 31 5 Common Money Mistakes………………………………………………........ 32 Branding Paradigm…………………………………………………………….... 33 Four Ways to Beat Our Slumping Economy……………………………......... 33

MR. D-MARS D-MARS.com Business Journal Tip of the Month “Your brand is created out of customer contact and the experience your customers have of you”

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7322 Southwest Fwy, Suite 806 Houston, Texas 77074 713-272-9511 . Phone 713-272-6364 . Fax 1-800-453-8752 . Toll Free www.d-mars.com 3.


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NTELLECTUAL SWAGGER is probably the closest I can get to adequately describing Attorney Taft L. Foley II. This brother is like a combination of Johnny Cochran, Jay Z, and Cornel West. He is a potent cocktail of legal genius, street poise, spiritual grace and confidence.

Most people are skeptical when it comes to lawyers, so the best way to convey that Taft Foley is kingdom come to the legal profession is by explaining how january 2011

he convinced me. I arrived at the Foley Law Firm 10 minutes early for a consultation on a legal issue. I was immediately awed by his fascinating collection of African-American historical memorabilia that elegantly dawned the walls of his beautifully decorated office. Everything in his office, from the furniture to the wall paper screamed class and style. I immediately began to think that I had come to the right place. Attorney Foley soon greeted me and I sat down with him over a fresh cup of cappuccino prepared by one of his assistants. I explained that I was owed $20,000 from a company that I had done a considerable amount of work for, but when the check was due, they hired a prominent downtown law firm and refused to pay, citing a loophole in the contract we had signed. Mr. Foley stopped me in my tracks, as if I had said something that struck a nerve. He then picked up his phone, put it on speaker and called the law firm while, muttering “lets get to the bottom of this right now” (as though he vicariously felt my pain and was pissed off www.

at the way I had been treated) It was at this point that my skepticism began to drift away like a small sailboat chasing a twilight horizon. Mr. Foley then asked for a senior partner at the firm. After being told that the partner was not in, he was transferred to his assistant. As soon as he identified himself as Taft Foley, the tone of the assistant changed. It was immediately apparent that she knew attorney Foley and that he means business. The assistant then called the senior partner on his cell phone and put him through to attorney Foley. Her candor and respect elicited a wink and a sly smile from Mr. Foley. After a brief exchange of greetings, at-

torney Foley confirmed that the partner was familiar with my case and attacked him with a freestyle barrage of case law, statutes and legal authority. It was at this point that I began to understand that I was in the presence of greatness.

The partner’s tightly woven demeanor became completely unraveled, he began to stutter profusely and it was clear that he was shaken, to say the least. To make a long story short, within the hour, this big wig law firm had consulted with their client and had faxed a settlement agreement for the amount that owed to me plus $10,000 in damages (which I promptly signed). I asked Mr. Foley what I owed him and he replied “the Bible says what profits a man who gains the world but loses his soul… there is no greater payment than helping a sister stick it to these snobbish aristocrats when they try to pull a fast one.” Mr. Foley then began the tour of his office gallery. We stopped at two obscure looking coins framed in an eloquent antique frame and he explained to me that the coins were Booker T. Washington and George Washing Carver coins, the only African-Americans ever to be minted on circulated United States currency. We then stopped at an impressive collection of photos of Mr. Foley, his son and ex-wife with President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, and Colin Powell. I asked attorney Foley who in the Houston area he looks up to and he quickly responded with several attorneys, who I had not heard of, Matthew Knowles, and James Prince. The latter caught me off guard. I asked why James Prince and he responded by saying that James Prince is a somewhat controversial figure, but the man is a general. “He runs his business empire like an army and like him or not, you must respect his success.” We then came across a small slightly obscured room that Attorney Foley calls his reflection room. The room was covered from wall to wall with settlement checks, the clients names were all blacked out, but there wasn’t a single check under a million dollars. Mr. Foley then went on to explain that behind each check is the story of David and Goliath; a struggling family who sought justice and won against a major corporation. There was a $3,000,000 settlement check against an 18-wheeler company whose driver fell asleep at the wheel and killed a 32-year-old struggling mother. A $6,000,000 check against a company whose negligence led to the death of a man who left three children and a loving wife, and many more just like those. Mr. Foley went 4.


on to explain that he handles all injury cases, from the 18-wheeler death case to the small fender bender cases because he enjoys helping his people outsmart and beat a corrupt and flawed system. I explained to Mr. Foley that I had seen enough and that I would love to do a story on him for this publication. Mr. Foley responded, “Well, if you’re going to do a story, you need to see me in action.” It just so happened that he was headed to Dallas the next day for a pretrial hearing and mediation session against an apartment complex whose negligence and faulty smoke detectors led to the death of three children. He invited me to join him and I agreed, as long as I could bring my photographer to shoot some pictures. The photographer and I met with the attorney at his office at 7:00am the next day. I somehow was under the impression that we would be driving to Dallas, but he drove to a small private jet company at Hobby Airport. Before boarding the impressive private leer jet, we took a few snap shots. We boarded the plane and immediately the flight attendant began to serve our in-flight meal. Mr. Foley then entertained us all with stories about growing up in the projects of Massachusetts with his six brothers and sisters. He cracked us up with reflections on the fried bologna sandwiches, great tasting welfare cheese that came in the big brick style block and reminiscing about

embarrassing moments like the time his mother pulled out a roll of colorful paper food stamps at the grocery store when one of his white classmates and her family was behind them in the grojanuary 2011

cery line (sorry attorney Foley, I just had to tell the story). We landed and made our way to the courthouse. Attorney Foley entered the court without a single piece of paper, no notes, no books, nothing. To my astonishment, there were seven lawyers against Foley, two lawyers for the apartment complex, three lawyers for the manufacturer of the smoke detectors, and two lawyers for the management company of the apartment complex. I must admit to thinking that Mr. Foley was in for a whipping that day. The judge soon confirmed that he shared my fears. The first words out of the judges mouth was, “Mr. Foley you seem to be outmanned.” Mr. Foley sharply shot back with “Your Honor, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. They’re the seven dwarfs…here to lean on each other because none of them have a leg to stand on!” to which the court room erupted with laughter. Mr. Foley was right, it quickly turned into a dog fight. The other lawyers were shuffling papers and citing case law right and left. For every case and law that they cited, Mr. Foley made it clear that he had read the case and off the top of his head, he rattled off case after case, after case and each time the www.

judge confirmed that Mr. Foley was graduating Cum Laude in 1996 with a correct. Before long, the Judge ruled Bachelors degree in Legal Studies. Afin attorney Foley’s favor on each and ter graduating from U-Mass with honevery issue before the court. After the ors, Attorney Foley attended TSU Law hearing, his red-faced opponents ap- School where he received his Juris Docproached attorney Foley as a group and torate degree in May of 2001. At TSU they disappeared into a small room in Law School, Foley was the mock trial the court house. About an hour later, champion for the year 2000. Mr. Folattorney emerged and whispered to me ey and his seven-year-old son are both that the case had been settled. I was Black Belts in Tae Kwon Do. Mr. Foley proud of him. was the Director of Legal Advocacy proWe exited the courthouse and made grams for the Houston Branch of the our way back to the airport. As I dozed N.A.A.C.P. and an active member of the off, attorney Foley had pulled out and Barack Obama for President Campaign. old tattered book. I asked him if that His office is located at 405 Main Street, was where he gets his cases and he said Houston Texas 77004 and he is available “well…. Yes”, he then revealed that it for legal consultations free of charge at was his first bible, received from his 832-778-8182. grandfather Morgan Ferguson over twenty years ago. I slept through the in flight meal on the return flight and when I woke up, attorney Foley was still sitting there like a preacher studying his bible for a Sunday sermon. We quickly exited the plane, said our goodbyes and I rushed to my office enriched with an inspiring story to share with the world. Attorney Taft L. Foley II is an excellent lawyer with the intellectual capacity, and zealousness that you need to win your personal injury case. He handles all personal injury cases, from wrongful death cases to minor car accidents. Foley attended the University of Attorney Taft L. Foley II & MR. D-MARS Massachusetts-Amherst, 5.


The Success Model of Greatness: 3 Principles to Make Your Own Success Happen By Nickcole Byrd Power Moves Blog Author and Life and Business Coach to Women

to identify your personal strengths and then capitalize on them. His test for your greatness potential was predicated on the following principles:

Principle #1

With the New Year approaching our doors so quickly all entrepreneurs and business owners need to begin to think about where it is that there are going. Each of us should be creating a clear cut plan for our business dreams. Goal Setting and Strategic planning allows vision to begin to take its shape and positions your company for viability in the marketplace. At the end of each year, it is important that you take a carefully analysis of your current year and then begin to forecast for the next year. Looking at what did work and what didn’t work provides a healthy

Being aware of what you are best at Entrepreneurs and business owners should survey their skill sets, their talents and spiritual gifts. God has given foundation for your company and cre- us the tools for every purpose he has asates stability for business model. signed to us. It is up to us to identify It is always great to survey the ideas those gifts and put them in to operation. of experts in your industry, business authors, and insights that can help you Principle #2 both on a spiritual and practical level. Knowing what is the economic force There is one author that has been able in your life to convey guiding principles for great What do you do that makes money? leadership and business insight through Many of my spiritual connections are his model of greatness. Author Jim Col- uncomfortable talking about their faith lins of the best selling book, Good to and money. Somehow we are still makGreat gives some great insights for pur- ing a correlation between our faith and suing your success journey. He speaks to poverty. I have refused to accept that I the fact that even in your personal life, have to give up one for the other because like in any great organization, you have I believe that God is my source that I

Reinventing the Brand By Lisa Matthews-Martin Contributing Writer

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rofessional growth can range from finding a way to maintain a sense of purpose throughout your career, and building the road to make it happen. In order to succeed, january 2011

First, let’s define the meaning of “brand” and how it is used in the workplace. A brand is more than a label that defines your professional title. Your brand is the focus of not only how you are viewed by others but how you feel about what you have accomplished professionally. Many successful careers are built on how good others think you are so why not take it up a notch? Here are one has to be willing to seize the op- a few things to consider as you repackportunity to learn new things. Profes- age your career: sionally, it is the role of the employer to • It is important to treat all levels of empower their employees with the tools staff as equal. Support your peers necessary to reach the company’s goals. the same as higher management by Personally, it is up to the individual to always providing quality work in a embrace these opportunities and detertimely manner. From the bottom to mine how to help the company accomthe top of the ladder - everyone is plish their goals. your customer. One way to start is by reshaping the • Take steps to change your behavior thought process of the contributions by building inter office relationyou make to your employer. Focus on ships. This is not only a stepping the company’s mission statement to stone to the next level, but an opsee how it will provide an opportunity portunity to learn about other deto reinvent your career. Education is a partments in the company. never-ending part of life that must be • Make requests to work on projects embraced wholeheartedly. With such that will afford an opportunity to a competitive job market and staggerbetter understand the dynamics of ing unemployment rate, it is time for a the company and its mission. change to reinvent the “brand.” www.

have to live a life of meager means. I want and I teach that God has given us permission to pursue the abundant life. That abundant life is to be used as a resource not just for ourselves but others in need.

Principle #3 Work your passion Any woman who can identify what her passion is and can get paid for it is operating in what I call the Optimum Blessing Level. The financial reward is just the icing on the cake. But to be able to work in any area that you truly love is a benefit most people unfortunately are not aspiring to achieve. Be diligent in finding your passion and create and innovative ways to get paid for it. There are lots of principles that you can begin to implement to make your definition of success and greatness happens in your life. You just have to have to COURAGE and BOLDNESS to seek out what that is and get to work on it. • Attend conferences, seminars, and meetings that are of interest and will provide further education to help you in become more knowledgeable about the company. Taking steps to show interest in the company will increase your visibility and allow others to see the effort of wanting more than just a job. Professional perception has a way to either build up or tear down a career. It is wise to become an employee that is known as being solution-focused rather than a problem starter. The brand you create for yourself will have lasting results of either getting the raise you desire or an untimely trip to the unemployment line. Decide today whether or not your professional career could use a makeover. How will you develop your brand? The efforts you make to reinvent your brand will have greater rewards for your future. Lisa Matthews-Martin is an advocate for individuals with disabilities in her community. She is the co-Editor a local newsletter The V.O.C.A.L - Voices of Community Advocates Who Lead.

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And the reason you don’t have a website? By Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant, Contributing Writer Having a website is an important and necessary tool for business owners. Your website is the window to your business. It is what a tailored business suit is to your personal appearance. If someone is contemplating using your services, not having a website could potentially cause you to lose a client. Just as satisfied consumers are excited to tell someone else about your service or product, so is an unhappy customer. This can damage your business’ reputation before it even gets started. Day after day, these situations unfold and the scenarios usually have the same outcome—loss of business. Technology is evolving and has made it fairly easy for consumers to research companies before they do any type of business with them or purchase products from them. A website is a tool that you can use to your advantage. You can use it for marketing purposes, to announce events and other news. Having a website saves time and money. In times past, a business had to rely solely on print marketing to advertise their business. Now, in addition to print marketing, if you have material that would otherwise be too expensive to print, you can place this same information on your website without incurring little to no expense. The best thing of all, with a website, is that your marketing audience is no longer limited. Your business can advertise via your website globally and virally allowing you to reach audiences and consumers that you were not able to reach before. There is no reason you should not have a website. This does not mean websites that contain an URL like www.yournamehere.bravehost.com or www.geocities.yournamehere.com. As a professional, you really want to look as serious and professional as possible. It has been proven that business owners, specifically small business owners, who have their own domain and website are taken more seriously than those who do not. If your desired name is taken, i.e. www.yournamehere.com, try something january 2011

creative like yourbusinessnamehere.com or www.yournameandbusinessnamehere.com or even www.yournameontheweb.net and so on. Notice in the four examples given, you can use your name, your business name, a combination of both or you can be creative. Also, do not limit yourself to .com. Other extensions such as .net, .org, .biz may be available. If you look at many websites today, several have been created using Word Press. Your web hosting company can host your blog through its services, thus allowing you to still have the URL address www.yournamehere.com instead of www.yournamehere.wordpress.com. Word Press has a broad array free and web based web themes. Many are customizable making it easy to adjust themes to your business and your specific taste. When creating your website, make sure that it is appealing to your visitors and user friendly. Key components of your website should be but are not limited to: • • • •

most important pages to have. This is how your visitors and clients will reach you should they need to do so. This page should include your physical and mailing address, phone numbers, email addresses, and any social media sites where you advertise your work. It should also include a point of contact if applicable. Lastly, it is important that you make your website navigationally friendly and one that viewers will want to visit repeatedly. Make sure the information on your website is current. Listed below are some resources to get you started and a links for some

websites that fit the above criteria.

RESOURCES: Go Daddy Fat Cow Register.com iPage inmotion Host Gator Start Logic

www.godaddy.com www.fatcow.com www.register.com www.ipage.com www.inmotion.com www.hostgator.com www.startlogic.com

Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant is an author, freelance writer and literary consultant. More information can be found at www.yolandamjohnson.com and www.bryantconsultingonline.com.

Home About Us Products and services Contact Page

Home: The home section of your website is the front door to your business. Statistics show that viewers of your website decide within the first ten seconds if they like what they see and whether they will continue or not. Make sure the page is visually stimulating and easy to read. If someone is looking for your contact information, the tab should be easy to find. About Us: This section should tell visitors about your company. A small history is good if possible. Be careful, too much information can be hazardous. When in doubt, leave it out. Products and Services: This section should list all services and products you provide. You can also choose to put your pricing here, but it is not required, however, if you are a retail business, it might be smart to add prices so you are not bombarded with phone calls. Contact Page: This is one of the www.

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Observational Study in The Workplace By Ashley Mayberry

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t was June 21,2010 when I began my Observational Study for the following business; Mayberry Homes Inc. I wanted to be clear and precise with my study, so I made the decision to be a participant observer. By following strict guidelines, I was able to successfully analyze this particular social group from a sociological perspective. Below are five questions that I went by to complete my observation. Describe the physical setting in which the interaction occurs. Mayberry Homes Inc. like many other businesses has an office, however, what made this particular office unique to me was the fact that it was formally a home in which the owner, his wife, and daughter lived. As the company began to grow; Mr. Mayberry made the decision to have the home reconstructed and made into a true office. The family room had been turned into a waiting room for potential clients. The two bedrooms located downstairs were turned into personal offices for Mayberry Homes associates. In the dinning room I seemed to notice the different types of sample selections that were used for potential home buyers, such as Tile, Brick, Carpet, and also Countertops. Also, coming from the main entrance in the left corner, I noticed a rather large, white board with the company’s mission statement. It read: Mayberry Homes Inc. has been january 2011

committed for many years to revitalizing the heart of Houston, one home at a time. We focus on making home ownership a reality for all individuals by providing quality new & remodeled homes at an exceptional value to our clients. Therefore, our goal is to reach out to low & moderate income families in the community. We share in the city’s effort to

remove blight in the surrounding neighborhoods in which we were raised and continue to live. Through your vision & our expertise, allow Mayberry Homes to become the builder of your choice in conceptualize your dream Home. Describe the nature of the group in terms of its purpose, structure, and characteristics of its members. Who www.

are they? What are their positions in the group? Describe achieved and ascribed statuses. Mayberry Homes Inc. has a very well establishment of employees, I would like to consider this business as a primary group. According to Charles Horton Cooley, a primary group is a small group whose members share personal and lasting relationships. Since Mayberry Homes isn’t one of the larger businesses; primary group is the perfect classification for them. This business functions tremendously with only five office employees including Mr. Mayberry (President C.E.O). These individuals have come to know one another very well. Shannon Thomas has been working for Mayberry Homes Inc. for the last five years. Shanon is 30 years old and his job title is Field Superintendent. Shanon’s status could be considered an achieved status because of the fact that

he didn’t start out having that particular occupation at Mayberry Homes. Next is Monica Rios (22 years) and Elizabeth Cabazos (30 years). Both of these young women have the same job title, Administrative Assistant. They both will have been working for Mayberry Homes for four whole years in August. Monica and Elizabeth share some of the same duties but are often working on separate assignments.

Lastly, there is Mary Gomez who is 28 years old and is already an office manager. Mary is a single parent but yet she is still able to balance work and her personal life. The structure of this business is that they fully understand the importance of clear and concise communication. Describe the interactions taking place. One thing to know about Mayberry Homes Inc. is that they are extremely busy. I found it pretty interesting listening to some of the conversations that were taking place. Phone calls were constantly being made to other clients in regards to construction. On the third day of my observation I had the opportunity to sit and witness an actual meeting that had taken place. In this meeting the associates expressed some of their ideas for future projects, they also discussed some of the issues that they could improve on as a team. I felt the communication within in the group was very acceptable. Everyone had an equal opportunity to speak, and everyone’s thoughts were taken into consideration. Describe the norms of the interactions taking place in the group. Are there any deviant or nonconforming behaviors occurring? The politeness is immediately noticeable. All guest are greeted with a friendly attitude. Mayberry Homes Inc. makes all of their customers and potential clients feel very welcomed and comfortable. I was glad to see that there was no deviant or nonconforming behavior occurring. Even when the boss would step out of the office everyone continued to act accordingly. Are there leaders in the group? What are the styles of leadership portrayed in the group? At Mayberry Home Inc., everyone is a leader in their on way. Everyone has to motivate one another to get their job done. I would like to consider them to be both expressive and instrumental leaders. The group has many responsibilities to take care of and they work together to make sure the tasks are always completed. They also demonstrate the well- being of one a other by helping each other out in the office if they notice that someone is being overwhelmed with too much work. 8.


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Does Your Business Card Build Your Brand? Are you losing credibility and or devalue the strength of your brand damaging the brand of your business and how you are perceived by others. Here are four tips to enhance your through lack of attention to one of your critical marketing tools in your busi- brand through your business card: ness, your business card? Discover how 1. Ensure that you work with a proyour business card can enhance your fessional designer to develop your brand and ensure that you stand out business card. It’s not whether you from your competition. like the design; it’s about whether When we are at a networking event it will represent your business efor meeting a client, it’s almost guarfectively and professionally to your anteed that we will exchange business target audience cards. Very often, without realizing it, we 2. Ideally have your business card printed on 12 point cardstock and are assessing our colleague by their busiby a traditional lithographic printer. ness card, and asking ourselves: Yes it is more expensive than digital - Is the business card professionally printing, but the quality is worth designed? investing in and a litho print gives far greater definition to your corpo- Is the business card crumpled at the rate identity and the color of your edges? brand - How does the weight of the business card feel - substantive or flimsy? - Does it look like the business card has been made on their PC - or worse still does it have a message at the bottom of the card to say where you too can access free cards? I have collected thousands of business cards over my time in business and every time I am sub-consciously assessing the professional status of them and their business when I receive their business card. We review someone’s card at least 3 times: 1. On receiving it 2. When we put it in our pocket, folio or bag as we leave the meeting 3. As we make a decision to keep it, transfer the information into our data bank or bin it! Our business card is a critical part of our marketing collateral and even if you can not afford to put in place other marketing materials, short changing the investment in developing a professional business card is definitely not something we should do if we are looking to develop a professional brand. When meeting someone in person, alongside how you present yourself in person, your business card can enhance

3. Matt laminate your card on the reverse for extra stability and style. Don’t laminate both sides as people will not be able to write on your card - we often note down things to remember about the person we met on their card 4. Use the valuable real estate on the back of your card to provide a call to action, for example, how to access your white paper or special report on your web site. Take action: Over the next 30 days, take the opportunity to review the business cards of your contacts and assess their card against yours. 1. What can you learn from other people’s business cards? 2. How could you take those learnings and further enhance your business card? Your goal is to ensure that your business card is a positive reflection of both you and your company, and it represents a strong brand. Invest in your business card, distribute it widely and you will be sure of expanding your professional success.

Advertise today in D-MARS Business Journal Call US TODAY! 713.272.9511 january 2011

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Getting Ready for a Job Fair? Ten Tips to Prepare for Success By Frederick Richards Contributing Writer

3. Don’t Leave Home Empty Handed

for the opportunity that each business is giving you to present yourself.

Bring multiple copies of your résumé 7. Lasting Impression For many, preparing for a career fair and/or portfolio to ensure you won’t can be a daunting task. However, if you run out when meeting with prospective When speaking with employers, make sure you leave a positive impression so come with the right tools, you can make employers. you get a phone call for an interview. the most of each fair you attend. As the director of career services at American 4. Business Cards InterContinental University Houston, Make sure you take employers’ business 8. Honesty I’ve learned a few tips that prospective cards so you can research the company Don’t mislead an employer. They are employees should take to heart before and apply for any positions that interest looking for candidates who are honest, you. Also, obtaining business cards is experienced and qualified. heading to the next job fair. the best way to send the recruiter/HR representative a thank you letter. 1. Do Your Homework 9. Bring your “A” Game Research the employers that will be in attendance. Determine what companies interest you and what they do to ensure you’re knowledgeable when speaking to representatives.

When you go into a job fair bring your “A” game. Basically, be prepared. Have Don’t let the employers ask all the ques- your résumé, do research on each comFrederick Richards is the director of career services at American InterContinental tions; make sure you come prepared to pany and be confident. University Houston, a leading provider of ask some of your own to show interest.

5. Ask Questions

career-focused education, offering associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. 6. Manners are Key 2. Dress for Success Whatever you do, be sure to showcase AIU is accredited by the Higher Learning Make sure you’re dressed in clean, profes- Politeness and confidence go a long way. your personality and the qualities that Commission and a member of the North sional attire. Appearance makes the first Make sure to practice a strong hand- make you a great fit for potential employ- Central Association. For more information, shake and be sure to show appreciation ers. Happy job hunting and good luck. visit www.aiuniv.edu. impression, so try to make a good one.

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10. Be Yourself

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Brand Building Can Quickly Boost Your Income When working online, brand building is essential to helping you develop a unique identity that will help you establish deep roots for your business. Considering the enormity of the internet population it is important that you gain a recognizable web presence which will serve to enhance your promotional abilities. In fact doing so should be one of your first priorities when marketing on the internet. When done correctly your new brand identity will significantly boost your ability to generate an income. Actually this benefit can be felt even before the brand has been firmly established online. Here is how just the efforts you invest to build a unique brand identity can serve to almost immediately help boost your ability to earn an income.

Increases Exposure The very effort of branding requires increasing your web presence so the new identity you are forging will be expose to more people. Obviously you want to get the word out in order to make your brand more easily recognizable and in this way your business now has more exposure as well. Keep in mind that even without any established brand identity your message will still filter through to some people compelling them to visit your site.

Increases Marketing Effectiveness Understand that you are in the ‘process’ of developing recognition for your brand, and that part of this process will be breeding familiarity with people. When marketing on the internet your promotional efforts will always be more effective the more familiar people become with you. This of course is based upon the assumption that the experience people have with you or your busi-

ness has been a positive one! So from day one and going forward you will be increasing your online marketing effectiveness which results of course in increasing revenues as well!

Encourages Repeat Business People by nature do not like change and if their experience with you or your business is positive they will return. You are like a comfortable ‘old shoe’ they are familiar with and can depend upon. The longer your relationship endures with someone the stronger the bond! Although this bond may not be fully developed early on, it is still a bond nonetheless and something that you can build upon. If you take the time to properly nurture the relationships you have with others, they in turn will likely refer their own friends and associates to your business. There is nothing that can beat this type of ‘word of mouth’ advertising! Brand building should be one your very first priorities when you are engaged in marketing on the internet. Establishing a strong web presence takes time and effort, however the process itself can quickly boost your ability to make money when you are working online. The establishment of a unique brand identity will over the long run help to increase your promotional effectiveness, but even the process will benefit you almost immediately. The 3 examples we discussed here today demonstrate that you do not have to wait until you have firmly established your brand online to experience income generating benefits. The process alone helps to increase your exposure, generate traffic and put you in a position to make money. The best part is this can happen even before your new image has become firmly embedded in the minds of people.

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Healthy Living: Getting the most from your doctor Get the most from your doctor visits

paper bag and bring it to your doctor visit.

• Take a moment to review the “TakYou and your doctor work together ing Charge of Your Doctor Visit” in managing your health. It is imporworksheet. It may be a helpful reftant for you to talk to your doctor about erence to use prior to each doctor concerns and questions you may have. visit. You can share your efforts in making changes in your lifestyle habits. Your Taking Charge of Your Doctor doctor may have some tips to help you Visit Worksheet make these changes. Keeping track of when you are due to have exams and A few minutes of preparation can preventive services helps both you and help you and your doctor. Before your your doctor. visit, read and answer the first two questions. Take the list and a pen or pencil to How to Talk with Your your appointment. Let the doctor read Doctor During Your Visit the list. During the visit, write down what you need to remember to do after • Ask your doctor to explain, in terms your appointment. you understand, anything that is • What do I want to TELL my doctor not clear to you. today? • Tell your doctor everything. Don’t • What do I want to ASK my doctor be afraid that he or she might not today? approve. For example, • If you do not agree with your doctor’s advice or feel you won’t be able to do everything he or she asks, let him or her know. • Write down all instructions at the end of your visit. • Ask if you should be aware of any signs or symptoms, good or bad, that may occur.

– Are there any risk factors that I need to be aware of that are more prevalent among African Americans? – What can I do to reduce these risks? • What do my doctor and I agree I will DO after this visit?

• Ask if a follow-up visit or phone call Interested in small business health is needed. insurance for up to 99 employees? We • Make sure all your questions are an- encourage you and/or your broker to contact one of our sales representatives. swered. Call us toll-free at (877) 233-0674 and • If you are confused about anything, request a free quote. ask more questions: “Would you Looking for individual or famgo over that again?” “I don’t under- ily health insurance? UnitedHealthcare, stand how to use this medication.” through its affiliate Golden Rule Insurance Company, offers a wide variety of How to Prepare for Your insurance plans, including copay plans, Doctor Visit high deductible plans, and health savings account (HSA) plans, designed to • It’s helpful to bring a list of medica- help meet the needs of families and intions you are currently taking – bet- dividuals. To get a free quote, call (800) ter yet, put your medications into a 322-8835. january 2011

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Managing Emergencies Adequately ple, the resources and any instructions related to the execution. It is very important to involve experts in the development of this document

Kola Sonaike, Ph.D. Program Chair, Business American Intercontinental University The Gulf of Mexico region has experienced its fair share of natural and man-made disasters over the last few years with the results drastically impacting everyone from the local community to individuals and businesses beyond the Gulf region. Unfortunately, the area has become a litmus test for the country’s faith in emergency management. Take the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for example. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, more than 57 percent of Americans feel the U.S. is no better prepared for hurricanes or other naturals disasters than it was in 2005. However, whether manmade or natural, these unpredictable situations are a part of our lives and it is

critical for communities and businesses to actively take measures to ensure they are prepared. In general, the management of emergencies encompasses three phases:

Pre-emergency phase • Develop an emergency plan that briefly describes things to do in an emergency - the sequence, the peo-

Direct sales is a dynamic industry – one that many entrepreneurs and stay-at-home parents are diving into. january 2011

According to the Direct Selling Association, more than 15 million people sold about $30 billion in products and services in the US in 2008. Nearly onethird of those sales were for personal items such as cosmetics, jewelry, and skin care. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Direct Selling Association Education Foundation (DSAEF) have partnered to help educate those interested in pursuing direct sales for themselves. Here are three questions the BBB recommends asking if you’re thinking about a career in direct sales: • Do I have what it takes to be a good salesman? Most natural sales people are outgoing, comfortable speaking in public, and self-motivated. But www.

• Provide first aid to those with minor wounds • Alert medical personnel to come on-site to treat and transport the injured • Recover whatever is usable and mitigate further losses • Engage international philanthropic organizations like the Red Cross, as appropriate

• Designate emergency control stations adequately equipped with effective communication and tracking tools

• Invite contractors to come on-site to assess damages and commence repairs and rebuilding

• Conduct routine emergency drills that are well-supervised and wellmonitored for lessons learned

• Provide hands-on labor • Contact representatives of security agencies, such as local police, to assist in maintaining control • Contact philanthropic organizations such as the Red Cross, as applicable

Is it Time to Work for Yourself? The tight job market has a growing number of people looking to become their own boss. In a September 2010 Citibank small business survey, 81 percent of small business owners still like or love what they do, and 75 percent said they would start their businesses again, even knowing about the challenges they would face. But starting a business in a recession isn’t always easy. Getting a bank loan is tough and credit card companies are reducing lines of credit. One way to feed your entrepreneurial drive in this economy is to consider a career in direct selling.

Post-emergency phase

• Identify and train an emergency control “on-scene commander”

• Phase I: Before the emergency (preparedness) • Phase II: During the emergency Emergency phase (response) • Officially declare the emergency • Phase III: After the emergency (re• Activate the emergency action plan covery and mitigation) Each of these phases has to be man- • Ensure logistics equipment such as transportation, deployment tools, aged adequately in order to minimize generators, and combating agents, potential loss of life, property or valuare available on-site ables during a critical situation. The following tips can help businesses improve their emergency preparedness and response:

• Contact the fire department, as applicable

those are skills that can also be acquired. Before diving in, make arrangements to shadow several direct sellers so you can see what it takes to be successful. • Is this a product I can believe in? Genuine excitement is catching, so if you really believe in the product, a lot of the work is already done for you. And the opposite is true, too – if you wouldn’t buy the product for yourself, you’ll have a very hard time selling it to anyone else. • Do I risk financial loss by joining the company? Legitimate companies generally have low start-up costs – typically less than $100. It’s also very important to understand the

• Work with insurance and public investigators to begin to collect data, take photographs and conduct interviews As emergencies have come to occupy center stage in modern life, the planning, organizing, leading and controlling of all phases cannot be ignored. The cost of ignoring an impending or inevitable emergency situation can be great, as the losses we see on the surface are often only the “tip of an iceberg.” Check out these helpful web sites to guide in the development of your personal or workplace emergency preparedness plan: • FEMA.gov • RedCross.org • Hcoem.org company’s buy-back policy so that you will know your rights should you choose to quit the business. Direct selling can be very rewarding. Denise Pagano from New York did her homework and decided to become an Independent Beauty Advisor for L’Bel, a premium skin care and cosmetics company. “Once I tried the products, I couldn’t wait to start sharing them with my friends,” she said. “I felt good about working for a company that’s had over 40 years of success, and it’s turned out to be a great fit for me. I get to set my own hours, I can sell online, one on one, or at L’Bel Beauty Parties – whatever works best for me.” Denise has also benefited from the coaching and education provided by L’Bel, as well as the online support offered. “In my Beauty Advisor Office Suite, I can communicate with people, manage my business and access more training and resources.” To find out if working with L’Bel could be a possibility for your career, visit www.lbelusa.com. - Family Features 22.


Satisfied Customers Make the Brand: Not Money!

By Dr. D. L. Jones Contributing Writer What do you think of when I say Coca-Cola, GE, IBM or Microsoft? Well, if you said they are all big companies, you’d be right. They are also four of the top rated brands around the globe. Why is a brand important? Obviously, a brand provides recognition. A brand sends a message to the market. The “brand” clearly identifies what can be expected from the company.

How can a company name such as IBM or GE achieve all this? The letters IBM and GE are household letters that represent brands of very successful Fortune 500 companies. What makes these letters such a household name? It is the cumulative history and sum of the relationships the companies have developed over the years that gives the brands great significance, respect and customer value. A brand creates associations and expectations, not because it is a brand, but because the brand encapsulates the expectations which the company has built in the past and which can reasonably be expected to be continued into the future. There is a lot of confusion when it comes to marketing, advertising and branding for small and medium size businesses. Many businesses approach marketing and advertising with the intention of developing their brand. They expect to use advertising to brand their business. Some talk about this approach as “getting their name out there.” Many small and medium size businesses spend their entire marketing january 2011

budget on this type of branding, or image building. Let me say this right now. If this is how you approach marketing, you may as well take the money you are spending doing this and burn it. You will make more of an impact if you do this in public. If you run a small or medium size business, using advertising to develop your brand is a total waste of money. This statement may seem totally opposite to what you believe and to what you have been told by advisors in the past, and may be hard to accept, but I know it is correct and deep down, you probably do to. Haven’t you had suspicions about the value of your advertising? There are many people who want to sell you image type advertising. That is what the big advertising companies do. However, while their advertising may sometimes win awards, what you really want it to do is win you sales. How effective can you honestly say that your image building advertising has been in doing that? Now I’m not saying image building advertising does not work. After all, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM, GE, etc. spend millions of dollars doing this. However, that is what it takes to make it work - millions. If you have that sort of money to throw around than go right ahead. But if you don’t have that much to spend on building your brand, your advertising expenditure will only is like a drop in a hat in terms of the effect that it has on your brand recognition. So what if people see your business name “out there?” What does it communicate to the market? So much advertising is just one meaningless name after another. It is like shouting your name into the air hoping someone will hear and pay attention. There is no way, unless you have millions, to effectively communicate what you and your business have to offer, if you advertise in this way. CocaCola and the like can only get away with it because they have already established a brand image and their advertising is so frequent that they can perpetuate that name recognition. However, if the company fails to deliver on the promise that has been established in the past, no amount of advertising can overcome the backlash of the consumers’ voice. Rewww.

member “New Coke?”

Let’s take a closer look: Do you recognize this name: Starbucks? This is a well known company. Although not quite in the same league as Coca-Cola, this brand is acknowledged world-wide nonetheless. How much do you think Starbucks would attribute the impact of its image building on the brand?

If you guessed “nothing,” you’re right! Starbucks spends virtually nothing on branding type advertising. However, the strength of their brand cannot be disputed. How can this be? The answer is that their relationships with customers and the market in general has been built over the years by the consistency of their quality and message achieved by the way they operate in their stores and interact with the world, without the need to spend money on advertising. The customers have delivered the brand message. This is the answer to the questions raised above. The brands of Coca-Cola and Microsoft have not been built by advertising. The brand is based on relationships and consistency of quality and message to the market. These companies’ successes have led to massive growth which has enabled them to have the financial resources to use to increase advertising to reinforce the existing brand. You also need to understand the importance of marketing and advertising your business in effective ways to

make sales and build the brand, rather than wastefully spending money to try to build your image. Far too many business owners waste money on advertising because they have been led to believe that “getting your name out there” is an acceptable strategy. However, there is only one acceptable strategy when it comes to marketing and advertising and that is to promote your business in the way that achieves the lowest cost of acquisition per customer and the highest average customer lifetime value. These are two measures you should be intimately acquainted with in your business and should be the basis for every marketing decision you make. Thoughts about branding should be related to operational performance and customer relationships, not advertising, until you can afford to spend millions like the best known brands can. In a small or medium size business, you should not consider using advertising to build your brand. You should advertise in ways that directly increase customer satisfaction and sales and use those satisfied customers to help build your brand.

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Tips for Mobile Phone Protection Reaching for your mobile phone, only to find it isn’t where you thought it was, can bring a quick flash of panic. When you realize that it’s lost, or even stolen, the stress levels really begin to rise. Don’t think it could happen to you? The experience is more common than you may think. Asurion, a technology protection company, estimates that 60 million cell phones are lost, stolen or damaged each year. This year, they project that one in four people will lose, damage or have their cell phone stolen. If you lose your phone, or suspect that it’s been stolen, what should you do? CTIA, an international association for the wireless telecommunications industry, recommends immediately contacting your carrier and telling them to

turn off your phone so you’re not responsible for charges. Some carriers will let you do this online, while others may require a phone call. You should also contact the police to file a report on the theft, and if the device is covered under your homeowner’s policy, file a claim through your insurance. CTIA also has these tips to prevent your device from being misused if it’s lost or stolen:

Equipment Coverage program on compatible devices, and offers: • Locate Phone – If the phone is outside audible range, you don’t have to retrace your steps looking for it. As long as the phone is powered on and within the coverage area, the “Locate Phone” feature uses GPS to provide the location of the missing phone on a map, and provides turnby-turn directions to its location.

endar, and other information somewhere else, such as your computer. • If you have a tendency to lose things, you may want to consider mobile phone insurance. Make sure you understand what the plan does and does not cover, and that you don’t buy redundant coverage – your home, renter’s or auto insurance may also cover phone replacement.

There are also apps available that • Use the security features on your may help you find your phone if it is device. lost. For example, Mobile Recovery is a • Use the personalization feature web- and phone-based application that and put your name and a different can help Verizon Wireless customers in phone number so that if someone the event they temporarily lose or misfinds your device, you can be con- place their phones. Asurion’s Mobile Retacted for its return. covery app is included at no additional • Keep a back-up of your contacts, cal- charge as part of Verizon Wireless’ Total

Social Media is the new resume frontier

By Shari Wright, Contributing Writer Several weeks ago, the Houston Chronicle spotlighted a recent college graduate whose job search strategy consists of “applying for positions, networking, and searching online for openings.” Although the specifics were not outlined, networking looks a lot different today than in the pre-Internet age when one physically distributed resumes to anyone and everyone. So, has resume distribution fallen january 2011

down a few rungs on the work search ladder? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, according to a small segment of career specialists. Louise Kursmark, a Resume and Career Marketing Communications expert of the Career Thought Leaders Consortium, says the resume is “no longer enough.” Fast forward to the technology’s current burst and YouTube and Linkedin are credited with creating additional skill-selling opportunities for job seekers. The impact of social media has single-handedly transformed what was once recognized as the preferred calling card into a professional online presence. While the resume remains a requirement of many employers, today’s job seekers are broadening their career reach with social media. Obviously, generational dynamics come into play here since a recent Wall Street Journal confirms how young adults have embraced “networking on social media or creating a Website to display their talents, with videos and samples of their work.” Still, www.

those who are not sales or tech savvy find the task of carving the perfect social media presence challenging. Splash Media, a Dallas-area based company with social media expertise, conducted several boot camps for CEOs in Houston this past summer. During the camp, participants were somewhat surprised to learn that the second largest search engine is Google-owned YouTube. As a job hunting tool, YouTube is out of the traditional box but some have encountered success. In fact, the YouTube CEO extended a job offer to a young man who showcased his technical skills via the popular site. Should you lack the creativity to strike the perfect YouTube presentation, media giant CNN and Bubbletweet. com offer alternatives. CNN’s 30-Second Pitch and Bubbletweet.com provide visual opportunities for job seeker to connect with employers. Regardless of which video medium you choose, 30 seconds is ample for potential employees to introduce themselves by

• Sound Alarm – Know the phone is in the house, but can’t remember where? Customers trying to find a misplaced phone can use the “Sound Alarm” feature, which triggers an alarm, even if the phone is on silent or vibrate mode. • Lock Phone – Once you have determined your phone is lost, you can use “Device Remote Lock” to prevent unauthorized use. • Wipe Contacts – You can protect your privacy by remotely erasing contacts from your phone. Take steps now in case your phone is lost, and be equipped to recover it in case the worst should happen. It’s easier than you might think, and will give you peace of mind. To learn more about Mobile Recovery, visit MyMobileRecovery.com. Family Features

stating their previous experience, skill strengths, and areas of employment interest. Both are free. In keeping with the principles of resume writing, your LinkedIn profile should be clear, concise and grammatically correct. Summaries that are not aligned with language usage standards have limited effect. For example, one profile lists “concepting” as a specialty. Although recognized as jargon, what exactly does “concepting” mean? Although context suggests that it is used to describe the process of developing a concept, the appropriate word is “conceptualizing.” If a recruiter is seeking someone whose experience reflects skills in formulating ideas, this word flub could easily cancel his or her candidacy. Thus, use jargon sparingly. Whether creating a resume or social media profile, selling your skills effectively is the ultimate goal. In the same vein as advertising copy, use crisp and descriptive words to convey your benefits to the potential employer. Whenever in doubt, don’t hesitate to consult an industry professional or recruiter for advice. Shari Wright is the Job Club Leader of a Brentwood Baptist Church ministry and the Houston Resume Examiner (http://www. examiner.com/careers-and-workplace-inhouston).

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By Christopher P. Kirksey, Editor-in-Chief

to ensure that your written and verbal diminishes your personal brand. After being in this industry skills are on point. for over twenty year, here are ten suggestions for building a stronger personal brand. Draft a marketing plan for yourself and review it quarterly. Include specific goals, strategies, action steps, and a timetable. Even include plans for failBecome an expert source. ure. Read and study your craft daily. Deliver a speech, write a bylined article, and become an expert source for the media. Make sure you have a Develop an ‘elevator speech’ -current photo, bio, resume, and speaker within the time that it takes an elevator introduction. to travel one floor -- about 60-seconds -- be able to deliver a succinct description of what you do, how you do it differently, and the benefit it provides. My Become a great communicator. Re- grandmother use to tell me often, “It’s search shows communications skill is a mighty poor dog that can’t wag his the top determinant for upward social own tail.” and professional mobility. Join Toastmasters or hire a communications coach

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verything you do in life -from the car you drive to the way you dress, from the friends you acquaint yourself with to the church you belong, from the movies you view to the books you read -- either builds or

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will appeal to those you are trying to impress.

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Become a class act. Buy elegant personal stationery and send hand-written notes. Know how to order a good bottle of wine in a fine restaurant and drink it sparingly during dinner. (Remember, alcohol and branding seldom mix.) Learn good business and social etiquette.

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Select “significant” significant others. Who you date or who you marry affects your brand. David F. D’Alessandro in his book Career Warfare: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Personal Brand and Fighting to Keep It, suggests that single people not take their dates to company events. If they do, they will be judged by the outcome of every romance.

Build your directory of contacts. Make new business contacts and stay in touch with them. Most people with powerful brands have powerful friends. Learn the power of reciprocity. Give Remember: It’s not who you know – it’s something back. Giving your time, talwho knows you. ent, and money to charitable causes is a brand-builder especially when it complements your brand strategy. Find a cause you are passionate about. When Realize that your boss can be your I was a graphic designer, I wanted to be most powerful ally -- or enemy -- in known for my creativity. By limiting my building your brand. Be loyal and nev- community involvement to faith-based er speak ill of him or her -- to anyone. organizations, I was able to reinforce You’ll never be a successful leader with- my personal brand. Not only did my out first learning to be an awesome fol- involvement benefit my career, but it lower. We should make our bosses look enhanced my spiritual life. Your personal brand is one of your good, and help them build their own greatest business assets. Nurture your brands. brand and you will nurture your career. How you manage your personal brand will determine how others view Image is everything. Dress for the job you — and ultimately shape your career you want, not the job you have. Balance and your life. your individual style with clothing that

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habits, behaviors, mistakes and strengths in the premarital phase. Address the pink flags before they become red! I want people to be spiritually yoked and emotionally compatible like everyone else. But, I am aware that financial un-fitness can destroy relationships - easily.

By Marilyn Logan, Contributing Writer

Question: How should we tackle money issues in 2011? I believe that we, in general, underestimate the effects of money on the psyche. Emotional attachment is not about the “money” itself, but revolves around what money allows/disallows one to do. I say look at ourselves squarely in the mirror and begin a journey toward understanding our behaviors, beliefs and influences concerning money. Delve into the emotional reasons as to why we spend money the way we do. We need to be asking ourselves where and how were our money perceptions formed? Money awareness is uniquely tied with self awareness. Shame and fear are not conducive to financial fitness or competency and typically lead to overspending or stagnation - being too risk averse when it comes to investing, for example. “Financial humility” is needed in these tough times. This includes developing a commitment to becoming insightful of one’s money habits and gaining a healthy respect for the effect money has on one’s life – financial arrogance is too costly! The biggest way to keep those emotions in check about money is to remove fear, stay committed to increasing one’s financial knowledge, take corrective action when we fall short of january 2011

our goal. In doing so, one can develop a healthier, more disciplined approach to becoming financially fit. There are tons of tests to take and books to read out there. I am a little partial to mine because it is based on a real-life story and not overly instructive. I like practical and simple teaching lessons. There are many financial terms and phrases that can be quite intimidating, so I recommend keeping it simple and taking your financial learning journey in stages. One of the first things I tell individuals or couples is to keep a “money journal” where one tracks every dollar spent for a month – down to the last penny, including the change you put in the tip jar at the local diner. Most people do not see where their money is going and implementation of the journal helps remove the demon of denial. Another very helpful resource is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling – credit management is one of the foundations of money management. The Foundation is committed to financial responsibility and has many educational tools one can use to increase your financial literacy. There also are several financial personality tests on the internet – typically tied to a financial organization. MSN offers a money quiz under its Money Section that compares your results with persons in your age group - MSN Financial IQ Test. A handy test to find out your financial personality type can be found at www.moneyworkbook.com.

Marilyn Logan Author – Motivational Speaker “I Can’t Afford to Marry You” A guide to understanding the true cost of love.

Order Book Now! www.marilynlogan.com Host of “The Money Lady Show” Hcctv@hccs.edu – Channel 19 Mon/Wed @ 3:30 p.m.

Yes, there are some exercises that couples can do to repair their financial situations. I recommend that couples exchange credit reports semi-annually; this ensures, to a certain extent, that your partner is fully financially vetted. One cannot fix anything if the total truth is not exposed. Secondly, while some say numbers increase chaos, I say numbers increase wisdom. Have a “family financial summit” with in-laws from both parties and ask questions about their financial mistakes. Personal experience is not always the best teacher – learn from those who have gone before you. Their candid stories can help you see that liabilities, that seemed insurmountable, can be overcome.

Question: Is there some type of team-building activity we can engage in, to help fix our money? We typically talk about repairing something after the downfall has occurred with the specter of divorce/breakup looming. I am all about prevention, prevention, prevention and being heedful about learning each person’s money www.

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5

Common Money Mistakes

By William J. Lynott, Contributing Writer, AARP

From paying fees to missing floats, here’s how to keep extra cash in your wallet Managing personal finances is far more difficult than it was a generation ago. Here are five common mistakes that can trip you up:

you can be certain that an automatic renewal won’t get a promotional rate. Take the time to call or visit the bank when you have a maturing CD, and be sure to ask if there are any current pro1. Allowing a bank CD to roll over au- motional rates. tomatically Banks love customers who allow 2. Failing to recognize the differenctheir CDs to roll over automatically at es between debit and credit cards. maturity, but people who do that are When you use a debit card for a making a mistake. How so? Banks often purchase, you must already have the run special promotions offering interest money in your checking account. That rates higher than their regular rates, but means no grace period for paying your

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Sam until your credit card bill arrives, then pay off the bill. But there’s a catch — a big one: When you pay your taxes by credit card, you’ll be charged a fee by the IRS. This “convenience” fee amounts to about 2.4 percent of the amount you’re paying. If you owe $2,000, the fee will be about $48. Put a $10,000 tax bill on your credit card and you’ll be hit with a fee of about $240. Further, if you can’t pay off the balance in full when you get your credit card bill, you’ll wind up paying the oppressive interest charges levied these days by card issuers. What’s worse, paying your taxes by credit card could be a red flag to your card issuer. If it appears that you’re having financial problems, it could raise your interest rate or lower your credit limit. The bottom line: Don’t do it. Almost any other way to come up with the money you need for your tax payment will be cheaper than using a credit card.

bill; the bank deducts the money from your account immediately each time you use it. Also, it’s easy to misplace a receipt and forget to note the transaction in your check register. That can result in overdrawn accounts and penalties for insufficient funds. On the plus side, paying by debit card is quick and easy and avoids interest charges. However, you pass up the advantage of using the “float.” When you use a credit card and pay your full balance each month, you have up to 30 days of free use of someone else’s money. You’re taking advantage of the period between the purchase date 5. Borrowing money from your retireand when the money is actually withment accounts drawn from your account. In financial Almost all 401(k) retirement plans circles that’s known as using the “float.” contain a provision that allows you to borrow money from them, but that does 3. Buying life insurance as an investnot mean that you should do it. Borment rowing even a small amount of money In general, life insurance can be from your retirement plan can rob you divided into two categories, term inof tens of thousands of dollars in lost resurance and whole life insurance. With tirement income. Any money you borterm insurance, all your heirs get is the row from your account will no longer stated death benefit; it’s never sold as an be drawing tax-deferred interest during investment. If you determine that you the period of the loan — and that lost need life insurance, a simple term policy interest could itself be drawing interest. may well be your best choice. It would One of the most valuable things you cost much less than whole life. Whole have going for you as an investor is the life insurance, also known as permanent awesome power of compounding interor cash value life insurance, not only est. Your interest earns interest, and that’s provides the stated death benefit, but what makes it possible to double your includes an investment feature, known money every nine years or so, dependas the cash value. The major advantage ing on current interest rates. Borrowing of whole life insurance as a retirement money from your retirement plan stunts investment is its tax treatment of the inthe magic of compound interest. creasing cash value, sometimes known as You’ll also pay a fee if you borrow the cash surrender value — the amount from your 401(k). It costs the company paid out if the policy is surrendered besomething to set up the loan, track payfore death. If a whole life policy is held ments and comply with government until death, no tax is ever paid on these regulations. The investment company earnings. If the owner ever needs funds that sponsors your program will not do prior to death, he or she can borrow this for free. against the cash value from the policy If you take out the money as a loan rather than cashing it in. That way, the and pay it back within the time limit, cash value continues to avoid taxation. generally five years, there will be no If you are in a high tax bracket and have IRS penalty fee. However, if you take a long time until retirement, whole life out your money as an early withdrawal insurance may be appropriate for you. before age 59 1/2, you’ll be hit with an However, the high fees and expenses of additional 10 percent early withdrawal whole life make it difficult to compete penalty. Borrowing money from your with the returns of other forms of in401(k) plan may be an easy option, but vestments. it should be considered only as a last resort. 4. Paying your income taxes by credit William J. Lynott is an author and card freelance writer who specializes in business If you’re short on cash, it’s a tempting suggestion: Postpone paying Uncle and financial issues. 32.


Branding Four Ways to Beat Our Paradigm By Author Noel Pinnock, B.S., M.P.A., C.A., CCC Contributing Writer Branding is more than just a business buzzword. It has become the crux of selling in the new economy. If the old marketing mantra was,” Nothing happens until somebody sells something,” the new philosophy could be” Nothing happens until somebody brands something.” In its simplest form, a brand is a noun. It is the name attached to a product or service. However, upon close inspection, a brand represents many more intangible aspects of a product or service: a collection of feelings and perceptions about quality, image, lifestyle and status. It creates in the mind of customers and prospects the perception that there is no product/ service on the market that is quite like yours. In short, a brand offers the customer a guarantee and then delivers on it. You might infer, then, that if you build a powerful brand, you will in turn be able to create a powerful marketing program. However, if you cannot convince customers that your product is worthy of purchasing, no amount of advertising dollars, fancy packaging or public relations will help you achieve your sales goals. Therefore, successful

branding paradigms begin with superior products and services, backed by excellent customer service that permeates an entire organization. Jim Collins refers to this as the Three Circles of the Hedgehog Concept. In his book Good to Great, he writes: “To quickly grasp the three circles, consider the following personal analogy. Suppose you were able to construct a work life that meets the following three tests. First, you are doing work which you have a genetic or God-given talent, and perhaps you could become one of the best in the world in applying that talent. (‘I feel that I was just born to be doing this this.’) Second, you are well paid for what you do. (‘I get paid to do this? Am I dreaming?’) Third, you are doing work you are passionate about and abosoluetely love to do, enjoying the actual process for its own sake. (‘I look forward to getting up and throwing myself into my daily work, and I really believe in what I am doing.’)” In conclusion, building your company’s paradigm does take work and involves knowing your customers and products/services. However, most of all, you must ask yourself three underlying questions: 1. What can your company /organization do better than anyone in the world? 2. What drives your company /organization’s economic engine? 3. What is your company/organization deeply passionate about.

Slumping Economy By Rachel Bishop, Contributing Writer

Our economy is at one of its lowest points ever in history. One thing that is playing a huge factor in this is the forever-growing increase of unemployment. Add that up with the high food and gas prices and you have a pretty big problem on your hands. This article will take a look at four things you can do to earn some extra cash to help get you through these bad times. Every day there are more and more people turning to the Internet in pursuit of finding some sort of way to make some cash. Listed below are a few ways that you can take advantage of the power of the internet.

Sign Up With Ebay Despite the slowing economy people are still making a pretty nice buck on eBay. All you need to do is set up an account with them and with Paypal, which are both free. After doing this take some time to collect all of the things that you already own and no longer want or need, and start listing them on eBay. Be sure to take good pictures and give great descriptions of your items. Doing this will greatly increase your sales.

When you are able to respond to these questions, then your branding project might be a little easier than you imagine but remember, accomplishing Learn Affiliate Marketing anything requires discipline…deterAffiliate marketing is huge right mined, definable, and deliberate actions now and growing fast. If you know with a clear goal in mind. nothing about this remarkable way to make money online, take some time to Let us Promote your Business, Your learn all about it. Affiliate marketing is Event, or You! Advertise today in basically when a person agrees to promote a company’s products and or serD-MARS Business Journal vices. For every sale generated from that person they will receive a commission. Call US TODAY! There are many people making a full

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time income by just doing affiliate marketing. Sounds crazy, right? Well it is not, there are actually millions of people all over the world who seriously make a living using the powerful method of affiliate marketing. Could you be one of them?

Take Paid Surveys Although taking surveys for cash is a controversial topic, you can make some money by taking surveys online. What one must understand is that if you are trying to get rich off of survey taking, you will be greatly disappointed; but if you are looking to make anywhere from $20-$200 a month, then paid online surveys may be for you. Keep in mind that you must find surveys that actually pay money and not just reward you with sweepstakes entries. Sign up with as many surveys as you can this will greatly increase your survey opportunities.

Get Paid For Your Skills There are sites out there that allow people to make some money by using their own individual skills. Sites such as Elance.com and Guru.com have members that are willing to pay people that can draw, type, write, edit, design and more to get certain jobs done for them. If you have any of these talents, then it might be worth your while to check into what these sites are all about. Who knows, you might actually find that you can make money off of a hobby of yours. So, find out which method fits you best and get out there and start making money! www.greatarticlesformoms.com

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