Merry Christmas!

For those of you who do not celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas to you, too.  Please forgive us Christians for sharing peace, love and goodwill with the world.  ‘Tis but our nature, and though we share this custom year-round, it is especially important we outwardly show our love during this very significant season.
It is rather curious that there is a rigorous debate over how retailers should greet their customers for the “Holidays.”  As I mentioned at the beginning of this month:  Retailers: There would not be a “Black Friday” without Christmas. Thank the customers who keep you in business by saying, “Merry Christmas!”  When stores exploit religious and secular holiday icons in advertising, decorations and in-store music, and profit from the sale of related merchandise, it is unacceptable to establish a policy forbidding the utterance of either holiday’s name.Fortunately, the debate in my local community seems to have been minimal this year, and probably would be non-existent, except for the various media outlets who reserve a certain amount of column-inches or air-time each year provoking the discussion (and, of course, this blog post, which will no doubt stir up some peripheral chatter).

In fact, there seems to be more Christmas-related programming on the radio (or maybe, I am just paying more attention to it this year), which provides for a more diverse range of music than the “Official” Christmas radio stations provide.  While I’m glad we have at least one station dedicated to Christmas music 24 hours per day, there are only so many times anybody feels comfortable hearing “Feliz Navidad” and “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”

So, are you staying motivated?  Depending on where you direct the focus, there are plenty of negative reports about employment and the economy that can distract you from your goal of being a success in your specialty.  Ignore them!  I am amazed at the number of “motivational seminars” that have cropped up recently.  While some provide very worthwhile and important information, there are quite a few that seem to prey on the desperate.
I have attended both types recently, and it only affirms what I learned in management courses years ago:  the only one who can motivate a person is himself.  While speakers can share stories, concepts and strategies for you to leverage your ambition, the drive to reach your goal can only come from within.  Nobody can make you want to succeed more than yourself.  I was reminded of that while I listened to various speakers.
One such speaker had a lengthy and impressive resume, and “dropped names” frequently.  His emphasis was encouraging the audience to say “Yes” often, and take action without thinking.  He over-played “the early bird gets the worm” adage to the point people were purchasing a $2,000 DVD course “for only $495” before they realized what hit them.  Which brings me to something else I have often heard and strongly believe:  “If it’s selling for $495…it’s worth $495.”
The next experience was widely publicized throughout the area, and the “Get Motivated” series tours the United States, so many of you across the country will have an opportunity to attend.  This seminar brought in such heavy-hitters as Steve Forbes, Laura Bush, Zig Ziglar, Terry Bradshaw, Rudy Giuliani and Colin Powell.  Each speaker shared personal anecdotes that were both entertaining and encouraging to a crowd of thousands.
There were also other speakers, while not celebrities, were also experts in their fields.  One spoke of a scientifically-proven system to work the stock market, and even included real-life examples of HUGE returns…though most examples on his PowerPoint demonstration were dated prior to the downturn beginning in 2006.  This must-have system was touted to be $3,200 that they were offering for a “mere $99,” which prompted me to think, “If it’s selling for $99…”
It was also uncomfortable watching Mr. Ziegler speak.  If you have not heard of this world-renowned motivational speaker, he suffered an incident in 2007 that affected his mental and physical functioning.  Eventually, remembering the outline for his speech that day was too much for him, and the event resorted to a backup video recording of a previous speech he made.  I first thought of my relatives who, also in their eighties, have had “good days” and “bad days,” but then those thoughts turned to feelings against Zig’s family who seems to be sacrificing this man’s dignity in exchange for his speaking fee.


I returned to Camp Blanding for additional training experiences with Allied Container Services and the National Guard.  This series of exercises was more compressed.  Since most of us worked the October rotation, there was less orientation time, and more practical iterations.  This time, I was assigned to a “village,” which has different logistics from the “IED Lanes” I was assigned to the previous month.  More focus was given to interactions between the soldiers and the key citizens (imam, mayor, sheik, etc.), but with a greater population, the exercise has different challenges.
I also accompanied my wife to the national “Business of Brides” conference presented by the Association of Bridal Consultants, where she learned tips and trends to help her build her own wedding-planning business here on Florida’s First Coast.  She met face-to-face with various other professionals with whom she has already developed strong relationships via the Internet, and is fiercely motivated to make 2010 a benchmark year for her company.
During the trip, we flew AirTran for the first time in years…not that we have any personal gripes about the company, but our finances and schedule typically steer us towards one of the competitors.  While the airline industry is still experiencing hard times (like the rest of us), I found the crew of each flight to be very positive, helpful and cheerful, which made the cramped quarters on the over-booked flights more tolerable.
AirTran also was experimenting with a new boarding procedure at the Jacksonville terminal.  Due to the previous flight arriving late, they loaded the aircraft starting with the back rows first, after the business-class passengers were on board.  You might remember my suggesting this exact process on September’s post.  While the flow of passengers onto the aircraft seemed relatively efficient, the overall time savings was rather negligible.  I presume it would take collecting data from numerous flights to see whether this technique is a time (and cost) savings.  I am just glad there is a company out there that has given consideration to non-traditional boarding methods.
I have received plenty of compliments on my redesign of, and as a result, have received referrals from other local companies seeking either a redesign of their current website, or a new online presence entirely.  I have been working with April Murdaugh of The Economic Empowerment Center on her site this month.  I enjoyed collaborating with her, and bringing her brand’s established image from her printed materials onto the Internet.  My goal for companies is to provide a consistent message between their website and existing advertising materials.
…and if you haven’t heard…
The Alhambra Dinner Theatre has reopened!  Renamed the Alhambra Theatre & Dining, new owner Craig Smith has given the facility a fresh new appearance, inside and out, and completely renovated the forty-two year-old performance venue’s menu, with the help of renowned chef Matthew Medure.  Last month, Alhambra alumni performed in front of a crowd of nearly one-thousand members of the community, who also had an opportunity to sample items from the new menu.  The Alhambra Dinner Theatre has been a cultural icon in the Southeast United States, and I am very pleased to see its return!
Scott J. Smith
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