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Last Saturday I was approached by a woman who asked, “Do you read?”
Quite taken aback, I asked her, “Why are you asking?”
She said, “I’m working for a charity aimed at encouraging people to learn to read.”
“And you thought that maybe the market would be the first place to look?” I said.
Luckily, she moved on as it wasn’t going too well.
I’m sure she meant well but what are these people thinking, sending a poorly prepared, badly trained person out to represent their business. Even charities need to have trained and knowledgeable staff. It’s not enough just to be a do gooder.
This lady was given some books and told to give them to people who can’t read to encourage them to learn. How ludicrous!
And what is more ludicrous is that they assumed that our market would be the place to find them.
I make gourmet fudge, am a professional blogger, build websites and teach social media marketing. Chris on the stall next to me is an extremely talented artist who sells his pictures of London in print form. Scot and Jill on the other side make delightful collector’s pieces and Paul behind me makes beautiful hand made shirts. These are the type of people you find at craft markets.
Who ever sent this poor lady – shame on you!
The art of power dressing seemed to fade with the passing of the 1980s, along with bubble perms and Joan Crawford-esque shoulder pads. However, as a woman in business who wishes to be taken seriously, pulling off a strong, formal style in the workplace can help to boost your confidence and keep you on top of your game.
The Telegraph cites the late Baroness Thatcher as one of the spearheads of the power dressing revolution, and while you might not want to emulate her style, you’d be a fool not to want to command the levels of confidence and respect that she did.
Power dressing doesn’t mean dressing like a man. After all, who said they were in charge anyway? Real power dressing is more about being able to wear something smart and modern which still reflects your own personality and unique style. This can be as simple as changing your handbag or wearing a different perfume. Here are some top style tips to dressing for success in the modern workplace.
- Basic blazers for everyday: blazers are making a comeback, and in a big way. No longer are they frumpy, schoolmarm pieces, but are now on-trend and ideal to throw over your work outfit to give you that polished, classy edge. A basic black blazer will go with everything, and for the warmer seasons, a lighter grey blazer will be perfect with your summer dresses and skirts.
- Sexy skirts for high pressure meetings: being sexy doesn’t mean wearing overly tight and short dresses or skirts. Indeed, some of the most fashionable skirts for women are longer, more flowing and less tailored than they used to be. Choosing a feminine piece for a high-powered, male-dominated meeting can help you connect with your inner strength and stay confident throughout.
- Bag a perfect work bag: work bags shouldn’t be big and bold, even if that’s your preference for day bags. Stick to neutral colours such as browns, blacks and beiges, and choose a smaller, more discreet handbag which will not detract from your carefully chosen outfit.
- Well-heeled: wearing appropriate shoes for the workplace is certainly a safety consideration, particularly if you have to work on uneven surfaces from time to time. However, the range and types of shoes you can wear will depend a lot on your industry. Creative types working in marketing or graphic design companies may have the chance to be more experimental with their shoe choices, but for ladies working in law firms or accountancy practices, sticking to basic black courts or pumps is the order of the day.
- Make it up right: makeup for work is still a contentious subject, even in 2013. Many women still feel the need to go in full makeup every day, which is fine if that gives them the boost they need. However, it can be good to take stock of what is in your makeup bag from time to time and make sure it still suits you. Bright red lipstick is fine once in a while, but remember to keep everything else incredibly subtle if that’s your choice.
In this fast, high tech world, we are always in a rush, avoiding anything that seems to slow us down, sometimes even the principles of professionalism and politeness fall by the wayside.
Email, of-course is a fast and efficient way of communicating. It’s fast, it can be automated, it has a vast reach, nearly everyone uses it and it is easily archived for future reference.
I do understand why people hate e-mails though! Quite often, the principles of curtious communication go out of the window when writing emails. I’ve had corporate emails with spelling and grammar mistakes, something you would never see in a written letter.
There is one medium that is neglected by many online businesses, the phone call. In fact, sometimes it is so difficult to find a contact phone number on websites that one has to resort to email even though the inquiry might be urgent.
I know that a busy phone line can be a problem if people have to wait too long but there are ways that you can turn that experience into something pleasurable for your customers and good for you. Wouldn’t it be great if your customer could be listening to an interesting message about your business or some great music instead of the ring ring ring of an unanswered phone? These ringback tones can be a valuable way of promoting your business to a captive audience.
For me, my worst hate is the Automated Response. I understand that for some businesses it is vital but you should make sure it is there for the right reason, to help the customer, not to make life easier for you or to save you money.
If you are serious about your business, both offline and online, stop for a minute and go through all the old-fashioned and abandoned, traditional business methods and think of ways you can bring them into the 21st century, remembering to always put your customer first.
“Tout est question d’equilbre” It is a question of balance. – Mireille Guiliano (1946-) French American Author
If there is one thing I’ve learned in France, it is never to eat walking down the street. The frowns, the fingers pointing, and the embarrassment are too much. Even emporter (take-out) dictates that you find a park, a bench, or a table to eat at, no walking, driving, and eating on the go.
What we’ve learned from the French obsession with food, mealtime, and good health are the following:
- Never eat while walking, driving, or sitting at the computer. Sit down and enjoy your food. It’s good for the health. You get to actually taste it and it makes you realize you are eating.
- Bon apetite — Sit down at the table to eat with your family or friends as often as possible. Light the candles and enjoy the conversation and the food.
- Drink black coffee, good tasting espresso to be exact. Non-fat milk is hard to come by and ruins the taste of a good cup of coffee. In France I do as the French, but give me a Starbucks and I order my small non-fat latte in a mug or emporter.
- Breakfast is small, lunch is medium or large, and dinner is the opposite of lunch. All of it is eaten sitting down with a china plate and tablecloth. Treat yourself by eating off pottery–not paper. It is good for you and good for the planet.
- Eat healthy and well at home and when you go out (maybe once a week) live it up with desert and wine.
- Buy fresh produce from the farmers’ market and use seasonal food. Seasonal vegetables and fruits get cheaper and cheaper as the season comes to a close. Stock up and use readily, freezing the leftovers.
- Try new recipes with seasonal food. If it is fresh, it becomes fun.
- Walk after dinner. Walk on Sunday. Walk whenever you can.
- Don’t take things so seriously–Ce’nest pas grave.
- Go slow and enjoy sitting in a cafe’.
- Drink lots of red wine (cheaper than a soft drink).
- Drink lots of water. Watch the frites. If you are anything like me, ask for the French fries to be replaced with salad. I just can’t resist.
- Sundays are for family day, for getting out in nature, and for relaxation. With all the stores closed on Sunday in France, it becomes easy to make the day a healthy, fun, slow day.
- Have people over for Sunday lunch under the trees or on the terrace whenever the weather permits. Take a walk afterwards, no matter what the weather permits.
- Share a desert and use the three bite rule. The first bite is delectable, the second bite is a must, and the third bite satisfies the palate.
- Find the funny things in life all around you. Whether it is something you heard from your child or grandchild, something you saw, or something you did. Enjoy sharing stories and anecdotes and laugh about them. Sharing stories and laughter are a great way to keep us healthy and joyful.
“It is said that over 80% of small business start ups fail in the first year!”
I am thoroughly fed up with everyone using this same line.
It is said by whom? For the life of me I have not found where these people get their information from. Is this supposed to encourage people to start businesses? Don’t you feel sorry for the poor budding entrepreneur?
In America, most serious entrepreneurs have had one or two failed business in their past, they see them as steps in the right direction towards getting the big one.
Sadly, this entrepreneurial spirit is looked down upon in this country; we would see them as “too big a risk”, in reality, the experience that they’ll have gained will have taught them not to make the same mistakes again. I would call them a “better bet”!
I am a “glass half full character”; a believer in positive thinking and I say, “if you believe it will happen and if you can see yourself in that picture, then you will be successful”.
I have heard people say to me, “It didn’t work because I’m just unlucky!”
I say there is no such thing as luck! A successful business person is someone who’ll go that bit further than others by doing the things that others don’t like to do and to keep doing it until it becomes second nature to them. So if you want to sell those widgets get on that phone and “smile and dial”.