“I’m Too Young to be This Old”

Veteran rocker Steven Tyler of Aerosmith often comes up with catchy phrases. Recently he offered one of his humorous paradoxical insights as part of his role as a judge on American Idol. He said, “I’m too young to be this old.” On one hand, he certainly looks like he has a lot of miles on him. At the same time, he always exudes high energy and an amazing zest for life.

Like him or not, Tyler is always very entertaining. His comment about being too young to be this old should get all of us thinking. There are lots of situations in almost every profession that are equally paradoxical. Here are a couple of examples I hear quite often:

1. I am working too hard to be this broke.

2. My service is too good for my customers to keep saying no.

Are there certain situations in yours professional life that are paradoxical… that do not seem to make sense (or even seem unfair)? Probably. Sometimes working harder is not the right answer. Often there are other keys to making things happen the way you want them to. Here are some suggestions:

1 .Your work habits. The statement, “I’m working hard” is very subjective. Sitting at your desk for three hours preparing for your strategy for the day may not be as productive as making 20 calls to key prospects. Driving around for three hours to be in the face of three potential buyers may not be as sitting down with one prospective client to have a casual cup of coffee. Always be thinking about the best way to get to the best prospects.

2. Are you spending your time wisely? Are the people you are approaching in a position to afford your service? Do they share your work ethics and vision?

3. When you make contact with prospective clients are they the decision-maker? The best sales presentation in the world is wasted if the recipient is not the ultimate buyer.

4. Make sure you are presenting the benefits of what you offer to your prospects. They don’t want to know what you have… they want to know why it will help them. This is the essence of being successful.

Give some thought to what Steven Tyler said. Is what you are trying to accomplish out of sync with the situation/customers you are pursuing? Every once in a while it is very helpful to step back and take a look at your business and your efforts from 20,000 feet. All businesses need to do this, big or small. That way you can ensure that your efforts and your activities are on a straight line to your goals.

Don’t try and sell a Ferrari to someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license. Make sure there is no paradox between your efforts and the customers you are pursuing. No excuses.

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If You Want to Move like Jagger

In an impromptu survey of peers my age, it is easy to acknowledge that you would never survive if it wasn’t for some aspect of social media. YouTube and Facebook are less than 10-years-old and many of my day-to-day activities, work related functions or future anticipations are posted within any one of the many medias for public consumption.

They say good news travels fast, but these days if there is an unflattering picture, or worse an on-the-fly video attached, it is likely going viral. If you want to be star, just do something.  Anything. Then launch it. This phenomenon has catapulted the careers and reputations of mere mortals (some more appropriate than others) to meteoric fame. Type the names “Justin Bieber”, “Walk off the Earth”, or “Lego Man Canada” into YouTube and you will quickly learn what I am talking about.

If I was to run for a public office or position, I would be aware that my personal and professional background would be on display. I’m aware that my family and I would be picked apart from stem to stern and everything I/we did, with whom I/we did it and the associated perceptions would be open for public scrutiny.

So what does this mean to a business woman such as myself who is trying to sell my strong belief in professional ethics to mortals who want to make an impact in their own profession?

Many already do without knowing it. But are you making the impression you think you are? As adults, we are in the public eye. We are visible and accessible on public forums. We market to the public to look for, and at us, in the name of creating new business. What is the message you want to convey?

It is relatively easy for anyone with a little Internet experience to set up a business/fan page to complement a personal Facebook profile.  If the first one is found, usually the second one will be as well. The most important key in Social media is; “disconnect between the two is the challenge”.

The business page is corporate and professional with wonderful wall posts and information.  The second often resembles a virtual high school cafeteria complete with gossip and relationship drama. And that’s BEFORE we’ve adjusted our privacy settings.

Ask yourself: How do I respond to other’s posts? What kind of language do I use? What kinds of posts do I share?

If you’re like me, jousting and bantering in the locker room or the proverbial water cooler is one thing. Making a sideways comment for the world to see is another, particularly in an environment where your impression is as instant as the number of eyes that happen to be online at that moment.

There are no ethics police or etiquette classes yet for conduct in social media, although so-called experts have cautioned Professionals about pitching “all the time”. Not everyone at the party cares about your latest sale, latest purchase or your latest multiple transaction woes. So the question becomes, how do I manage the public platform of my personal life?

Let’s start with friends. Personally I love my friends, but within the Social Media, I am selective as to whom I have “friended”. Of those who I have befriended, many I did because their humour and wit inspires and enlightens me. Having said that; if I see a particularly “wild” post, I remove it off my wall. If it persists, I message them with a request for help. If it continues still, I have to cut them loose, lest their views or behaviour reflect on me.

I would be remiss in not commenting on the pictures, videos, reposts and any of the thousands of requests for games on the platform. I screen and filter all that there is to see on my page. It’s my role as a professional to ensure exclusive content that is in keeping with my core beliefs and my professional mission statement.

I allow the public and my clientele to see me with my hair down so they can get to know me in both my personal and professional elements. After all, I am a person. I am a wife with two very impressionable daughters. I have a life outside of “Neat Freaks Cleaning” and it generally involves family and friends.  I want you to see the best of me within all of that.

What I don’t want you to see, and not because I’m a hypocrite, is what is private to me, and those who may have been there with me. I give myself permission to close the door and draw the drapes.

The platform allows me to edit and share what I deem appropriate, and hopefully not invite criticism for lack of transparency. We owe it to ourselves to be the keeper of the gate and decide what we are willing to share, and when. Sometimes our choices, which at the time seemed like the thing to do, can actually roll back on us and cause us harm. A lost sale, a lost prospect, lost revenue.

We won’t likely know until it is too late to repair. Ultimately my message is this; if you want Moves Like Jagger, make sure the video of you is flattering and the record label thinks so too.

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It Never Ends

Once a week, Diane Foernssler takes aim at the dust that invades her home, using everything from the vacuum cleaner to a special mop for blinds and baseboards.

On those other six days, however, the dust wins. “It’s everywhere and it never goes away,” says Foernssler, an Illinois fitness trainer and mother of two. “It’s a losing battle.”

Unfortunately, she’s right.

As a mother of two young daughters and the owner of Neat Freaks Cleaning, I can attest to dust’s constant accumulation on all those books, clothes and knick-knacks has nothing to do with poor housekeeping. It’s a naturally and continually forming collection of some pretty gross stuff.

“It has nothing to do with being dirty,” says Dr. William Berger, a California allergist and author of Asthma and Allergies for Dummies. “You can leave your house closed for two or three weeks and come back and there will be dust.”

A whole lot of it. According to some other reading I have studied, the average six-room home in the Canada collects 18 kilograms of dust each year.

The main contributors to all that indoor dust are microscopic dust mites, the breakdown of fibres from household fabrics and furniture and human and animal dander (the nice name for skin flakes).

The dust mites, which have a taste for human skin, come in “countless numbers” in your bedding alone, never mind other spots around the house. Regretfully, getting rid of them is impossible: females lay 20 to 50 eggs every three weeks.

While eradicating dust altogether may be a pipe dream, there are steps you can take to mitigate its accumulation in your home.

The first step: Get rid of all that stuff. “The more clutter there is, the more dust there is”. Things such as books, clothing and stuffed animals are prime collectors of dust, he says.

Concentrate your dust-fighting efforts on bedrooms, since we spend about one-third of our lives asleep.

Studies show, “The bedroom should be as bare as possible”. That means having an uncarpeted floor, minimal furniture and only the current season’s clothes in the closet.

For walls, using paint that can be cleaned with water is helpful. So are HEPA (short for High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting) air filters.

Occasionally using those old standbys — a vacuum and a can of Endust — also provides at least temporary relief, but if time is not on your side and you simply need some professional help, give me a call at 604 537 7878.

Barb Kadarishko, CEO Neat Freaks Cleaning Services, Vancouver, BC

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Are Window Films The Answer?

Window films can help you solve problems with heat, glare, fading and privacy without blocking your view. It’s a simple, cost-effective way to increase your home’s comfort, energy-efficiency and overall appearance. All you need are a few common tools, a helper for large windows and some free time in the morning or evening to make your home the coolest house on the block.

Window films offer year round benefits and beauty to your home. A quality residential window film is capable of stopping up to 80% of the heat that would otherwise enter a building. And certain types of window films can block up to 99% of damaging ultraviolet rays that are known to reduce the sun’s fading effect on fabrics and furniture.

Window films can help you solve problems with heat, glare, fading and privacy without blocking your view. It’s a simple, cost-effective way to increase your home’s comfort, energy-efficiency and overall appearance. All you need are a few common tools, a helper for large windows and some free time in the morning or evening to make your home the coolest house on the block.

Window films offer year round benefits and beauty to your home. A quality residential window film is capable of stopping up to 80% of the heat that would otherwise enter a building. And certain types of window films can block up to 99% of damaging ultraviolet rays that are known to reduce the sun’s fading effect on fabrics and furniture.

But; from personal experience, that same window film can generate sufficient heat between the panes of a thermal window to break down the sealing membrane that seals the two halves of your window together. The result will be humidity entering that space and creating an unpleasant distraction from the beautiful outlook you once had. So check first with your window manufacture before applying the film and get their endorsement (preferrably in writing) before you start.

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Executor from Hell

First off; do you have a will ?   If not, why ?  Do you not own property or chattels of some sort which you may wish to keep out of the government’s hands ?

If you have a will, then chosing the right Executor is one of the most important (and challenging) elements of your estate plan.

Select the right person, and your assets will be passed on smoothly and efficiently. Select the wrong person, and you could be leaving behind a legacy of financial hassles, family conflict, and legal problems for your heirs.

How do you ensure you’ve made the right choice? Consider the following:

1. Age and health

Pick someone who’s in good health and is younger than you. An executor who dies or becomes mentally infirm while administrating your estate will be of little help to your heirs. This is a particularly important issue if your estate includes instructions regarding children under the age of 18.

2. Do they want the job?

Being an executor is time consuming. And you can’t expect everyone to have the patience for the job. Better to have a candid discussion with your prospective choice and ask whether they’re OK with taking on the responsibility than simply thrust the job upon someone who feels obliged to say yes—and may not serve you properly as a result.

3. Let them know your wishes

Portfolio manager, legal representative, controller, and bookkeeper—whoever you pick will wear many hats. Mind-reader will not be one of them. Don’t assume he or she will intuitively understand the reasons why you’re leaving what to whom. Instead, have a conversation with your choice and make your intentions clear.

4. Relevant expertise

It’s equally important your choice be financially savvy—the more complex your estate, the more important that quality is. Ideally, your choice should have considerable experience managing assets or financial affairs. Business owners, executives, accountants, bankers, financial advisors, and corporate lawyers are your best choices.

5. The closer the better

The closer your executor’s physical proximity to your assets, the better. Estate taxes and administration procedures are handled differently depending on the jurisdiction and those procedures could have important implications on your estate. That’s not to say U.S. and international executors are unworkable. But it will mean more work—and a couple of plane trips—for your prospective choice.

6. How many do you need?

Individual circumstances warrant different solutions. But most professionals believe two is better than one, and four is too many.

7. All in the family…or not

Some people believe family members make the best executors, because they understand you and your estate intentions better than a stranger. Others believe this leads to conflict among heirs. One family member (who knows you and your wishes) and one trusted advisor (either a friend or a corporate executor who brings financial savvy and experience) seems the most workable solution.

8. Personal dynamics

Relationships count. While it’s not your executor’s job to be a family counsellor to your feuding children, neither should they be the cause of further conflict. If you think someone will be a source of friction, make another choice. Or at least name a co-executor who can provide an objective opinion when things get heated

9. When to call in a professional

If your estate is large and complex; if an operating business will form a portion of your bequest; or if relationships between heirs are strained, it’s a good idea. Several of the big banks offer professional executor services through the trust companies they own and there are smaller, independent shops as well.

10. Review your choice periodically

It happens: your executor moves, or dies, or becomes firm and otherwise incapable of handling your affairs. So it’s a good idea to have a backup choice—or two. And review your first choice every year to ensure he or she will be competent to take care of business.

11. Keep it simple and organized

Have a formal statement of wishes that clarifies your intentions. Also make sure your executor has a copy of your latest will, along with a list of assets and important financial documents. Having the information close at hand will make asset transfer easier, which is, of course, the ultimate goal of any well constructed estate plan.

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How is Your Kitchen Fairing

If the family room is the emotional centre of a house, the kitchen is its heart and soul.

It’s where we do a lot of our living. As such, it’s one of the more expensive areas of a home to build, to renovate and to keep running smoothly and efficiently. It’s also an area we can easily overlook in our quest to raise our environmental know-how.

Installing faucet aerators and shopping at Whole Foods are great for our eco-consciousness but there is so much more homeowners can do to lessen their impact on the environment and to save money in the meantime.

About 30 per cent of your household energy use takes place in the kitchen. Because energy guzzling appliances are a big part of the kitchen, it’s important to rethink or relearn how to use them.

Your overall cookprint – which can be referred to as ‘the environmental impact created when you eat and cook’ – is what we need to begin shrinking. You’ve heard this term elsewhere, more likely as ‘sustainable eating’.

The oven is an energy hog or the Humvee of the kitchen. Since only six per cent of the fuel used in an average oven goes toward active cooking, try using a slow cooker or a toaster oven or even a pressure cooker for those larger meals on your cook-top instead.

Try more passive styles of cooking.

Reconsider the length of time you preheat the oven and give it a try without any preheating time at all. Consider turning the oven off 10 or 15 minutes earlier than the prescribed cooking time, which allows the food to finish cooking from heat already built up inside the oven. Try softening noodles by soaking them first in boiling water.

There are so many positive ideas we can implement, that require little to no change in how we exist within our kitchens.

Many green foodies abhor microwave ovens, but they probably don’t know that they consume far less energy than a stove. The beauty of a microwave is that it doesn’t heat up your kitchen and lead you to turn up your air conditioning. Try not to use them to defrost foods, though, because that’s simply wasteful. Thawing food overnight in your fridge is best.

Did you know that convection ovens produce 30 per cent less greenhouse gases than conventional ovens?

Many kitchen faucets are controlled by a single valve. If you leave the handle tilted to the hot side (usually the left) and turn that on, you fire up the hot water tank even when you don’t want hot water. Simply leaving it turned to the right saves energy.

Teflon cookware and single-serving containers are two of Carbon’s biggest pet peeves. Teflon is not only toxic but often poorly made and easily disposable. Single-serving containers of yogurt and individual bottles of iced tea add needless waste to our landfill sites. Consider instead brewing your iced tea at home or eating your yogurt from a bowl or lunch-box container.

Since kitchens generate the most waste of any room in the house, start by minimizing the excess packaging you purchase at the supermarket. Buy fresh, unwrapped produce, avoid buying in bulk and huge portions unless you eat in bulk or have a big family to feed. Reuse plastic bags, glass jars and packaging. And don’t forget to compost your organic waste.

The toxins that go into dishwashing soap, floor and glass cleaners, detergents and the gamut of household cleaners we use in our kitchens is frightening. There are solutions with cleaning products that are non-toxic, biodegradable and plant-based. Or consider making your own household cleaning products from such kitchen staples as baking soda, lemon juice and white vinegar.

If you need a hand at finding the right product, drop me a line at barbinvan@hotmail.com

Not only will the earth thank you for it, but our grandchildren and their children will thank you.


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Believe it or Not

I won’t profess to be an expert in the area of Real Estate, but my parents are and they passed along this tidbit for your reading pleasure.

“As most of you know, the national average home price was down in March from where it stood last year. But did you also know that home prices are not declining.

Confused ?  Well you should be !

Let me see if I can explain; average prices are affected by changes in the mix of sales, so year-over-year price comparisons can be like looking in a fun house mirror: ‘distorted’.

To illustrate: line up a class of kids by height, calculate the average. Now excuse the ten tallest kids and recalculate the average. The average height has declined, but the kids haven’t gotten any shorter. (Don’t laugh. This is the most accurate example I could come up with.)

A year ago, the national average price was pitched up by surging sales activity in some of Vancouver’s priciest neighbourhoods. With activity there having subsequently returned to earth, the average has declined.

By contrast, the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) is not affected by changes in the mix of sales. It’s based on a sophisticated model of buyers’ willingness to pay for various features that contribute to a home’s value, and provides a clear picture of home price trends.

The MLS® HPI remains up from year-ago levels, so the reality is that home prices are still climbing in the five major markets that it currently covers. That includes Vancouver, where the average price was down from where it stood last year.”

Well what do you think ?  Is it a “wine and roses” economy or one that more resembles “beer and pretzels” ?

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