Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Plugging Your Leaks

A couple of weeks ago, my hubby noticed a stain on our basement ceiling.  After a closer inspection, we realized it was water. And for any homeowner that sees water in places other than the sink, toilet, or tub, your stomach automatically begins to twist into knots.  When the plumber arrived, he told us the toilet in the bathroom on the floor above the basement was leaking down into the ceiling.

As he wrote up the estimate, I stood at the bathroom door and thought back to the first time I thought the toilet felt a little loose.  At least 6 months ago.  Then I thought back to when I thought I heard a few drips as I touched up my makeup before going out - at least 4 months ago. 

After handing me the bill, he explained that when the leak first started, it made a wet spot underneath it.  Then, it spread to the floor, saturating it underneath.  Finally, completely soaked, it began to creep through the floor, creating a water drip in the basement ceiling.  Only after seeing the damage in the basement did we finally take action.  Now, instead of dealing with just a leak, we are dealing with a leak, replacing the bathroom floor, and fixing the drywall in the basement ceiling.

What question did I asked myself as I handed over my credit card?  "How much could I have avoided if I had taken action and called the plumber the very first time it felt loose or when I heard the first drip?"

What about you?  What signs are you ignoring?  What could you have taken care of at the "first drip", but instead, you continue to look the other way or brush it off?

In your business: 
Are you avoiding making the necessary tough decisions as a result of the economy?

In your job: 
Are you facing the reality that your company may be in trouble and doing what's necessary to show yourself an asset and a superstar or actively getting your resume out there?

In your finances: 
Are you spending beyond your means, carrying credit card debt, or avoiding talking to your spouse about your financial future hoping that it will somehow work itself out?

In your relationship:  Is it time to have a difficult conversation or deal with problems or challenges that you've been letting slide because "you're just not ready to talk about it"?

Unfortunately, as I learned today, avoiding the warning signs can only lead to one thing: a bigger issue that could end up costing you much more in the end.

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Doreen Rainey is a Life Coach and Speaker who helps her clients Get RADICAL! For a FREE 30 day membership to or to subscribe to her bi-weekly newsletter, visit her website. Join Doreen in the Washington, DC area for the 2010 Get RADICAL Women's Conference featuring Jillian Michaels, Fitness Trainer from The Biggest Loser and Rhonda Britten, Emmy Winner Life Coach from Starting Over and Celebrity Fit Club.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm a Lil' Bit Country

We all have one.  That one reality show that we would never admit that we watch, but would never miss an episode.  For me, that show started it's 4th season just a couple of weeks ago.
As a life long Dallas Cowboys fan, I've cheered for them when they've won Superbowls (all 5 of them) and I've stood by their side (and shed a few tears) when their 1989 season record was 1-15 (at least we beat the Washington Redskins!). And of course, as a teenager with my white shorts and vest, I had big dreams of being a Dallas Cowboy's Cheerleader.

Imagine my surprise when I'm flipping channels a couple of years ago and came across a reality show called: Making the Team where they were selecting Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders for the upcoming football season. As I watched, and seriously pondered, just how small a pair of shorts could get (those shorts are TINY), I began to understand the process for making the squad.

Now, I have to admit, I was thinking - how hard could it be? You do a few dance moves, swing your hair around, and perfect the ability to smile for hours while wearing boots and the job is yours. WRONG!

Let me tell you the steps it takes to make the squad and how some of these women prepare for auditions:
  • They recommend you take their dance prep classes BEFORE auditions begin. Sometimes for a year!
  • Preliminary auditions are first, sometimes with over 1,000 showing up.
  • If you make the first cut, you'll go to semi-final auditions where you'll learn a routine and that famous kickline.
  • Made it to final auditions?  Great, now it's time for your interview with football and current event questions.
  • Made it through finals? That only means you're invited to training camp.
Training camp is 90 days.  Yes - that's 3 months - and guess what?  That's no guarantee that you'll make the squad.

Now, here's my question to you.  If this is the work, commitment, dedication and effort it takes to make a cheerleading squad - shouldn't it take AT LEAST that much work, commitment, dedication and effort to get what you say you want?

One of the things that has gotten lost in this microwave society we live in is good ol' fashion hard work:

Blood. Sweat. Tears. Commitmemt (some of these women audition year after year - and never make it).

So, I want to take this moment to remind you that anything worth having takes hard work, commitment, dedication and effort. How else will you:
  • Get that promotion
  • Earn that degree
  • Fix that relationship
  • Get healthy
  • Start and build a successful business
  • Raise a family
  • Make the cheerleading squad
One last thing...I LOVE the theme song from Making the Team. It challenges you to decide how bad you want what you say you want. It's courtesy of country music star Tim McGraw. Think about what it is you say you want and then ask yourself the words from his song:

Are you hungry?
Are you thirsty?
Is it a fire that burns you up inside?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
With that one thing on your mind?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You've got to lay it all out on the line

I especially love the last line - it speaks to whatever you want to accomplish - "You've got to lay it all on the line".

Oh yeah, I'll be heading to that incredible billion dollar stadium on November 22nd.  I'll be in the stands to cheer my team on as they beat the Washington Redskins. 

2009 DCC Training Camp Candidates

Go Cowboys!

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Doreen Rainey is a Life Coach and Speaker who helps her clients Get RADICAL! For a FREE 30 day membership to or to subscribe to her bi-weekly newsletter, visit her website. Join Doreen in the Washington, DC area for the 2010 Get RADICAL Women's Conference featuring Jillian Michaels, Fitness Trainer from The Biggest Loser and Rhonda Britten, Emmy Winner Life Coach from Starting Over and Celebrity Fit Club.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Innovation Trumps Recession

No one would argue that our economy tanked and people have been severely affected - both in their personal lives and in their business. But some companies have worked hard to recreate, redesign, refocus and review their current business practices and products to maintain cash flow, keep themselves competitive, and yes - even increase revenues and profits.

If you're an entrepreneur - or an aspiring entrepreneur - the number one rule of business still applies: Find a need and fill it. Here are some stories of innovative thinkers who did just that and are beating the odds by being open to changing directions. I found these inspiring stories in one of my favorite magazines: Fortune Small Business.

Johnny Dela Valdene & Travis Hollman
Founders of ViB in Dallas

The Problem: In 2008, Valdene and Hollman were running a toy company that sold $6 million in marshmallow shooters every year. At a trade fair in New York City they saw an attendee collapsing from what looked like a heart attack. Paramedics later told them that the man had in fact suffered an anxiety attack -- brought on by too many caffeinated energy drinks.

The Moment: They decided that the world needed the opposite of an energy drink: a relaxation drink made from soothing, natural ingredients. With the help of a food scientist they created a drink with theanine, an amino acid found in green tea; B vitamins; and L-threonine, a natural antidepressant. They enlisted six grad students to test the drink.

The Payoff: Three months later Valdene (now 42) and Hollman (40) launched ViB (pronounced Vibe). Today ViB sells through 68 West Coast distributors. Sales are expected to hit $5 million this year.

Innovation Tip: Don't hang on to your vision too tightly. Hollman planned to name the drink "Vacation in a Bottle." After being that told it wouldn't be legal to hand out glass bottle samples in most public places, they switched to cans. Then 7-Eleven told them they didn't want the drink in a can because it looked too much like an energy drink, so ViB adopted aluminum bottles.
"You have to be flexible," says Hollman. "You know what your outcome is. It's all the little things along the way that can change." -Jennifer Alsever

Joanna Van Vleck
Founder of Trunk Club in Oregon

The Problem: Van Vleck knew that many guys hated shopping for clothes in retail stores, so she decided to create a line of personal shopping outlets. She recruited investors to open retail storefronts across the country where men could go for personal shopping sessions. But when the market crashed in late 2008, her funding disappeared.

The Moment: When a potential investor in San Francisco asked Van Vleck to meet with him via Webcam, she initially balked at the idea. "I don't do Webcams," says Van Vleck, 25. But a lot of men she knew seemed to feel more comfortable talking on them, which suggested the Webcam as an ideal forum for personal shopping with men. Her consultants could select and mail clothes to a client based on his lifestyle, budget or career and then talk him through the garments as he modeled them on the Webcam. No retail stores or investors needed.

The Payoff: Van Vleck's 21 style consultants now work with 2,500 customers across the country. The company, Trunk Club, expects $2 million in sales this year.

Innovation Tip: Sometimes inexperience drives innovation. If Van Vleck had ever worked in the retail world, she would have known that merchandise is typically ordered in bulk up to six months in advance. By contrast, her business model is based on ordering small lots of clothing from wholesalers each week. "I didn't fall into the trap of 'We can't do that,'" she says. "We broke all the rules." -Jennifer Alsever

Mark Konjevod
Founder of WIN Products in New York City

The Problem: In 2000, Konjevod was running marathons and working as the business development director at Cox Enterprises. He noticed that his moisture-wicking running clothes were stinking up the house even after he washed them. No matter what the detergent or how much he used, a sweaty odor lingered.

The Moment: Konjevod started asking athlete friends if they had the same problem. The answer: an overwhelming yes. He used his connections to find an experienced chemist who mixed up a special concoction to fight lingering bacteria that get caught inside the high-tech fibers used in performance sporting apparel. In 2005, Konjevod sent the detergent to friends at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs. The athletes loved it.

The Payoff: Konjevod's business, Win Products, posted $5 million in sales last year. Win detergent earned endorsements from the U.S. Olympic Training Centers and Nike, which now recommends the soap to callers on its toll-free consumer phone line. The detergent will be sold in 20,000 grocery stores this year.

Innovation Tip: Just because big companies dominate a market doesn't mean there isn't room for a niche product or service. Konjevod, 39, had no background in detergents or chemistry, but he decided he could compete with Procter & Gamble by selling through gyms and athletic stores and catering to the $15 billion performance fabrics market. -Jennifer Alsever

David and Stuart Pikoff
Games2U - Austin, TX

They want to see your kids spending more time outdoors... playing Halo, Guitar Hero 3 and laser tag. The brothers' two-year-old Austin company, Games2U, brings truck-mounted video game theaters and laser tag gear to birthday parties. Last year Games2U started selling franchises; the Pikoffs project revenues of $15 million to $20 million this year.

Games2U has signed up 38 franchisees to handle 113 territories in 16 states. New franchisees pay the Pikoffs a $35,000 fee up front and a 6% royalty on sales. For each territory, a franchisee must also buy a branded Games2U trailer or vehicle from the Pikoffs, bringing the startup cost to between $89,000 and $200,000. Each Games2U unit is outfitted with screens and video-game consoles that allow 12 to 24 gamers to compete at once. Clients typically pay a flat fee of $300 to $350 for a two-hour party appearance.

"I wouldn't be so bold as to say we're recession-proof," says David Pikoff, 42. "But franchisees are hearing that while people aren't purchasing big houses or cars, they won't cheat their kids out of a childhood memory for a few hundred bucks."

So, what needs have you noticed that people have? With passion, dedication, and focus, you can design an innovative business that gives you success - even in a recession.

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Doreen Rainey is a Life Coach and Speaker who helps her clients Get RADICAL! For a FREE 30 day membership to or to subscribe to her bi-weekly newsletter, visit her website. Join Doreen in the Washington, DC area for the 2010 Get RADICAL Women's Conference featuring Jillian Michaels, Fitness Trainer from The Biggest Loser and Rhonda Britten, Emmy Winner Life Coach from Starting Over and Celebrity Fit Club.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How To Ask For a Raise

One of the greatest skills you can obtain is the skill of negotiation. Understanding how to present your position and persuading others to your way of thinking serves you well in both your professional and personal life.

Working in HR, I was always surprised when candidates for a job accepted our first offer. I was also surprised when we promoted someone and they didn't negotiate a higher salary. I have also been surprised when companies would say "no raises this year" and employees wouldn't question their own pay. But the greatest surprise of all? When people would ask for a raise in a way that demonstrated they had no idea how to position themselves to get the answer they wanted.

Now, this is not to say that you will always get a higher starting salary, more money when you get promoted, an increase when the company says there's no money, and a raise when you ask. But, I do believe you must always ASK. And more importantly, you must ask RIGHT.

I was talking to a friend last week and she shared that she was told that she was up for a promotion. My response? "Great, with a heads up, it gives you time to prepare your salary negotiation." You would have thought I grew wings. She had no idea that promotions were "negotiable." Well, I'm here to tell you - everything is negotiable.

So, here are my tips for asking for a raise:

1. Make Sure You Deserve One.
Tenure is not a reason for getting a raise. Doing your job well is not a reason for getting a raise (you already get something for that - it's called a paycheck). Take the time to write out, specifically, what you have done that deserves an increase. What additional projects have you taken on? Have you taken over duties from someone who is no longer there? Has your job expanded beyond its current responsibilities? Are you now managing more people? If you can't articulate why you deserve a raise, then maybe you don't.

2. Know the Market.
What is your job worth? Notice, I didn't say what are YOU worth. Just because you are the best receptionist the company has ever had doesn't mean they will pay you $100k to answer their phones.

Research salary surveys and find out what the market is paying for your job. There are industry surveys, non-profit surveys, and surveys by location. You can even hire someone to do a market study on your position - this is especially helpful when your job is Director, VP or C-level. Once you have the survey data, you can add to that number based on your past performance and future contribution. By doing this, when you give them your number, you'll be able to back it up.

3. Timing is Everything
Patience is definitely a virtue in business. You have to know the "vibe" of your boss to know when to talk money. Make sure that you'll have uninterrupted time to discuss it. Nothing is worse that making your pitch and having your boss distracted by email, phone calls, or having to go to another meeting.

4. Be Professional and Methodical
Lay all of your cards on the table. Be bold, courageous, professional and methodical. This is not the time to let emotions get the best of you.

I like to open with something like "I'm her to talk to you about a raise." Then, begin with why you deserve one (refer to #1) and be specific. Then, move to your research. You could start with "Based on market data for this industry and location, salaries for my position are...). You can even suggest ways the budget could cover your raise (reducing spending in certain areas). Finally, end with what you want (5%, 10%, $10,000, $15,000).

Then, SHUT UP!

Wait for a response. No matter how long it takes, do not say another word. Let the next words that fill the air belong to your boss. It might just be "okay".

4. Don't Leave Unless You Have an Answer Other Than No.
If you don't get an "okay", don't take "no" for an answer. The reality is, very few bosses can make that decision on the spot (and even if they can, they won't). Ask for a time frame for an answer. Ask what the process is for getting an answer. Then, thank them and reiterate your commitment to the organization.

When the times comes for your boss to get back to you and if you don't hear anything, don't get mad, take the initiative to ask for another meeting. Be ready - you may have to negotiate again.
Possible outcomes:

  • You get what you want! (Yea!)
  • You get less than you want, but more than if you had never asked. (Not bad!)
  • You get a delayed yes - you agree to revisit it in 30, 60, 90 days. (Follow up)
  • You get a "no" - which means you are no worse off than you were before you asked. (Revisit at review time)
5. Continue to Be a Star
No matter what the answer, no matter how long the process takes, work hard and continue to give your best. Don't let your pay dictate your contribution. You can stay at your job, you can look for another, but you should never do less than your best.

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Doreen Rainey is a Life Coach and Speaker who helps her clients Get RADICAL!
For a FREE 30 day membership to or to subscribe to her bi-weekly newsletter, visit her
Join Doreen in the Washington, DC area for the 2010
Get RADICAL Women's Conference featuring Jillian Michaels, Fitness Trainer from The Biggest Loser.