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Wednesday, 20 June 2012 16:43

I'm sort of annoying

Written by Deb Neuman

I hope I don't annoy my co-workers. I try not to, but the fact that I often talk to myself out loud might annoy some. If you work in an office with others, chances are you may annoy or be annoyed by - someone there. Career experts advise that you should confront an annoying co-worker and address the issue. But sometimes that just exacerbates the problem, leading to tension and more annoying behavior. Sometimes it's just better to accept your co-workers as they are focus on the positive!

According to an article in 'The Grindstone,' here are eight annoying habits of our co-workers that are best to just live with.

Thursday, 14 June 2012 08:36

Stop planning!

Written by Deb Neuman

I caught a snippet of a graduation speech that Jane Lynch (of GLEE fame) gave at a recent commencement. She told the recent college graduates to 'Stop planning!' noting that she would not be where she is today had she followed her plan.

Hear, hear, Jane!

Think about the plans you had for yourself on your graduation day. How's that working out for ya? Chances are you can look back over the years since graduation and note that most of what has happened to you was not part of your plan.

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 16:06

When working for someone else doesn't work

Written by Deb Neuman

A friend of mine has a dilemma. She has a job with great pay and awesome co-workers, and she enjoys her work. Yet she's miserable. I know her well enough to diagnose the problem. She's an entrepreneur. As much as she likes her job, living by someone else's rules and schedule is making her nuts. Not to mention working to advance someone else's business rather than her own. I suggested to her that coming to terms with her entrepreneurial nature is the first step to finding the right career path.

It is possible for those of us with these traits to work for other people providing the environment and culture allows our inner-entrepreneur room to breathe. But being in the wrong work environment can cause the entrepreneur to feel caged in. Of course, one option for my friend is to start her own business, and that is likely the direction she will take.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 14:32

Summer bucket list

Written by Deb Neuman

Ms. Jetta's snow tires have been replaced with her summer shoes. The hats/mittens/scarves and winter coats have been packed away. The flower gardens have been planted. I'm ready for summer in Maine! You and I both know all too well how quickly the summer season flies by, so now is the time to make your plan to insure you get out there and enjoy all that Maine has to offer.

It's time to make your annual Maine Summer Bucket List! Think of your Top 10 things you want to do this summer. If you have kids, engage them in the process. Write down your annual mustdos, but also add a few new things you have never done before.

Seeking some new ideas myself, I posted this question to Facebook. Here are some great ideas you might want to add to your list:

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 16:21

Watch out for Moose

Written by Deb Neuman

I'm on the road for business and staying at the Hampton Inn in Presque Isle, Maine. I'll be spending the next several days in Northern Maine with representatives from various agencies meeting with businesses throughout the county in my role with the Department of Economic and Community Development.

As I checked into the hotel last night, I recalled the last time I stayed at a similar hotel. It was in Pasadena, California a few weeks ago. I love California it's my birthplace. But given the choice I would rather be here than there any day.

Northern Maine is truly one of the best places on earth. That is my opinion and I'm sticking with it. I drove here from Bangor on a beautiful afternoon that turned into a stunning summer evening. Seeing the view of Katahdin to my left and the sun setting over rolling hills and fields that are being prepped for this seasons potato crop was breathtaking.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 16:47

Making it in Maine

Written by Deb Neuman

In case you haven't heard manufacturing is alive and well in Maine! This was abundantly clear when I had the privilege to introduce nine Maine companies as part of a Business Showcase at the 2012 Manufacturing Summit held in Rockland by the Manufacturers Association of Maine. The companies included Howe & Howe Technologies, Sappi Fine Paper, Biovation, Pepin Associates, Revision, Wentworth Technology and more. The companies ranged from those that have been doing business in Maine for a long time and employ hundreds of people to start-ups with one or two people.

What was particularly interesting and exciting was the range of products being developed by these companies right here in Maine - everything from paper being used in Nike sneakers and Gucci jackets to medical dressings that are made to not stick to skin, robots being used to fight fires, headsets for the fast food industry, airplane parts being made by new lightweight composite materials, and highly-absorbent fiber products being used in packaging to preserve fresh food.

Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:36

Waking up in Bar Harbor

Written by Deb Neuman

This is the time of year when I get itchy to be back in business for myself - when I remember those days of owning businesses in Bar Harbor and the anticipation and excitement of what the coming season would bring. Even though I don't own a business there anymore, I have friends who do. So this past weekend I ventured there to share in some of their excitement as the town comes back to life.

Walking the streets, I witnessed the preparation and anticipation of the coming season. Fences were being painted, furniture was being placed on restaurant decks, storefronts were being swept up, inventory was being hung up and OPEN signs were beginning to show up in more places.

I spoke to several business owners about their prediction for the coming season, and what I heard was very positive. They said that hotels and inns are reporting busy bookings way ahead of last year at this time. This confirmed what the Maine Office of Tourism told me: Inquiries to their website and requests for information were up 40 percent compared to this time last year. This is great news!

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 19:25

Profiting from poo

Written by Deb Neuman

When I'm asked by someone, 'What kind of business should I start?' my first response is usually, 'Find something you love, then determine if it can be profitable.' This response was turned upside down recently when I interviewed two guys who do something few of us would love to do they pick up dog poop.

Childhood friends Jason Gibbons and Justin Lubitz grew up together, went their separate ways after high school, returned to Maine and decided to go into business together. They pondered many ideas, but this one was the winner. Picking up dog doo-doo from people's yards might not sound particularly appealing to you, but Jason and Justin saw an opportunity and went for it. They had seen similar businesses in other states and thought Maine could use this service. They were right!

Nine months ago Scoop Dooty was born, and today they have more than 60 happy customers. On a daily basis you will find Justin and Jason in backyards scooping up treasures and cleaning yards. When I asked them if they liked the work, they admitted that the actual scooping isn't all that appealing, but there is great satisfaction in leaving a yard clean, making a customer happy and turning a profit. Their rates are very affordable appealing to customers who don't have the time or the desire to do it for themselves.

Thursday, 26 April 2012 10:28

Clean up your 'house' if you want that job!

Written by Deb Neuman

It was about this time back in the '80s when I began really stressing about finding a job after college. I put together my first resume and mailed it out to prospective employers hoping to be asked for an interview. If I landed an interview and did well, they would begin the process of checking references and vetting me for the job. How times have changed! Today employers are checking you out before they even invite you in for the interview. Many interviews never happen because of what employers learn about you with you ever knowing it. Behold the age of the internet! Thankfully, like bad 'Tony' perms in the '80s (yes, I had one), the days of mailing out resumes as our primary means for finding a job are over.

This is both good news and bad news for job seekers, whether you're about to seek out your first job after graduation or you're looking for a new job. Here are ways to use the internet to gain an advantage in your job search.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 13:17

Managing expectations the Disney Way

Written by Deb Neuman

I'm writing this with a Disney hangover after spending six days in the kingdom of magic and make believe with a zillion people from New York and New Jersey on school vacation - totally worth it to spend time with my niece and nephews experiencing the magic with them. Disney has long been recognized for their stellar attention to customer service and the overall customer experience. One thing stood out to me on this trip as we ventured from one experience to the next. Disney does an amazing job at managing expectations lessons we can apply to our businesses.

My nephews are 7 and 9, so we went on a lot of rides a lot! At each ride there is a sign that displays the wait time. This is critical information for families with little ones who are trying to survive their adventure. When the sign said five minutes we got right in line! If it said sixty minutes, we considered if the wait was worth it. Two hours or more we moved on to something else! My sister-in-law even used an app on her iPhone to check wait times at rides throughout the park. This way we weren't schlepping the whole herd of kiddos across the park only to find a line that was too long for our patience level.

Disney provided us with information that allowed us to make informed decisions about the activities we chose. This put us in control and we knew what to expect when we got in line - a much better approach than NOT telling people how long the wait would be, which can only lead guests to become frustrated. Let's apply this to a business. Customers appreciate knowing how long the wait will be whether it be for a table at a restaurant, a service call to install cable or service on our vehicles. If you own a business - especially a service business you will score major points when you let customers know how long they will wait for service. Disney also scored points by moving the lines along faster than the wait times indicated. Under promising and over delivering is a much smarter strategy rather than saying the wait time will be 60 minutes and it becomes 90!

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