We have a great group of participants registered for Speak Up: Crafting & Delivering Killer Presentations to Boost Your Business or Career that starts next week, but we still have room for a few more to join us!

If you haven’t peeked at the details for this 8-week program, take a quick look here, https://www.lisamontanaro.com/speakup

You know, as my career has evolved, I’ve always been fairly poised and confident in front of an audience. But there was a time when I would get butterflies in my stomach, or worry that no one would pay attention to my presentations.

It took coaching and feedback to get to the point where I’m at now… presenting to large groups, speaking internationally and getting paid really great rates!

It was a journey… and I got help along the way. For example, here’s a clip that I’m very proud of speaking at “The Big Event” in Sacramento, CA in 2014.

The_Big_Event-Video-screenshot

It took a lot of work to get to this stage, but with some coaching and training, I got there! Maybe you’re like I was, a bit overwhelmed, not knowing how to pull it off? Fear no more! If you want to become a great public speaker or hone your existing speaking skills, you can!

Join us for Speak Up starting next week, September 8th with classes on Thursday evenings throughOctober 27th.

Speak Up is a coaching and training program for aspiring speakers, as well as speakers with experience that want to “up their game” and knock it out of the park!

And… you get two-for-one! My co-presenter will once again be Monica Ricci, an accomplished speaker extraordinaire. I hope you’ll join us.

Get the details here.

P.S. Use coupon code SPEAKUPSPECIAL to get $100 off the registration fee!

testimonial-Jennifer_Lava

“How committed are you?” This is the question I asked the participants of Speak Up: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations that I co-presented with my colleague and friend, Monica Ricci, as a pre-conference session at the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) 2013 Conference held in New Orleans from April 17-20. We were entering the 4th hour of our half-day workshop, and I was introducing the last module of our program, called Expect the Unexpected. But to fully grasp the meaning behind my question, I must back up and fill you in on what I am now calling my Planes, Trains and Automobiles experience (okay, sans the trains if we are being technical!).

Lisa_at_NAPO_table

All of the materials for my Expo table were in my carry on bag.

I set out to travel to the NAPO conference early morning on April 16th to ensure that I would arrive the day before my workshop, which was to start at 8:00 am on April 17th. Ah… the best laid plans. I packed a large suitcase as I was to be on business traveling for 10 days in the Southeast, first to New Orleans to speak at the NAPO Conference, and then to Tampa to speak at a law placement conference. I dutifully paid my $25 checked baggage fee on American Airlines and was on my way. Usually, I would put my presentation outfit in my carry on bag, but that was filled with materials for the table I purchased as an Exhibitor at the NAPO Expo & Marketplace. (This was my first lesson learned… always pack your presentation outfit in your carry on no matter what!)

At first, things seemed great. I sat next to two very friendly and interesting people for the first leg from Sacramento to Dallas, where I was to connect to a flight to New Orleans, putting me in the Big Easy by late afternoon. But when we landed in Dallas, the pilot announced that we could not “park” the plane as American Airlines’ computer system had gone down and they had no directions as to how to proceed. We then sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting further direction. Eventually, we found out that it was system wide, and not just in Dallas. Apparently, there is no back up plan for when the computers go down, except to wait for them to come back up. As a productivity expert, this incensed me as I started going through in my mind the procedure that should have been in place for this type of scenario. After an hour, they started taking people off the 7 planes stuck out on the tarmac and brought us to the terminal via buses.

As soon as I arrived in the terminal and saw what a mess it was, in terms of how many people were stuck there and how many flights were delayed and canceled, my first reaction was to rent a car to get to New Orleans. I checked Google Maps on my iPhone and learned that it was an 8.5 hour drive. Ouch! I had woken really early to get to the airport so was a bit sleep deprived and worried about making that drive alone. It was now about 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 16th and I calculated that I wouldn’t arrive in New Orleans until 11:00 pm at the earliest, as there was no way I could drive that long without stopping.

Twiiter-travelSo, I waited. And waited. And waited. And I tweeted on Twitter, and posted on Facebook to keep my friends, family, clients and followers apprised of the situation. A reporter from NBC News emailed me and asked if she could interview me about the situation. She had seen one of my tweets. I complied and the next thing I knew, I was on the phone filling her in. Her story went to print a few hours later, unfortunately before the “real” story unfolded. When her story went to print, it ended with me getting ready to board a 7:00 pm flight to New Orleans. Ah, timing is everything. That’s not what happened. No indeed!

At 7:00 pm, we were advised that our crew had gone “illegal,” which we found out meant they had left the airport. Okay… so when will the next crew arrive, we asked. Not until tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. What? Excuse me? It is only 7:00 pm, we have been here for 6 hours waiting, almost all other flights have taken off or been rescheduled, but for New Orleans, there were no flights going out that evening. That was the harsh reality. In that split second, I had to make a choice. I went up to the desk and very clearly and loudly, but politely asked if they would re-route us onto other airlines. The American Airlines agent said that it was not their responsibility to do that and the next flight was the one the next morning. That was our only choice. I mentioned that I had to present at 8:00 am the next day, so that was unacceptable. I was told to go out to the customer care desk and wait on line with others. I saw the writing on the wall. There was no hope with getting a flight that night. So I turned around, looked at my fellow passengers and said “Who wants to drive with me to New Orleans? I have to be there in time to present at 8:00 am?” A woman stepped forward, and we started planning out the trip. Then two more women (a couple that had just been married in the state of Washington after being together for 25 years — this was the first day of their honeymoon!), and a man.

View of sun rising over Mississippi River from my hotel room in New Orleans after my "all nighter."

View of sun rising over Mississippi River from my hotel room in New Orleans after my “all nighter.”

The 5 of us quickly rallied. We rented a car, decided who would drive the first leg, navigated out of the airport (it felt so good to be out of that airport after 6+ hours!), stopped for provisions for the long drive and to charge cell phones quickly, and introduced ourselves and shared why we were heading to New Orleans. All of them were from the Seattle area, and two of them even had a mutual acquaintance back home. Yes, they were total strangers and I was taking a big chance, but they seemed pretty normal, and “stranger antenna” wasn’t beeping, so I had a suspicion it would be okay. I sent a text to my husband, who was of course, nervous and asked me if the man seemed normal (I realized later he never went to sleep until I was at the hotel in New Orleans to make sure I arrived safely and to call and text me every few hours to stay in touch!). Winds up that he and I spent the most time driving and talking in the front seat, and he spends his life helping people that need organ transplants. Talk about a nice guy. (Please refrain from jokes about how he was planning to kill us and steal our organs — I’ve heard it many times already since I told this story!)

The ride was long, but thankfully flat and with perfect weather conditions. It was dark and desolate, but that also meant hardly any traffic. After my turn at the wheel, I was forced to sit on the hump in the middle of the back seat because I was the smallest. Between that uncomfortable position, and the fact that one of the drivers was, let’s say, not the smoothest of drivers (she had many cans of Red Bull to keep herself awake, but that also made her a bit jumpy!), sleep was out of the question. Not a wink. I wound up being in charge of the music, which we accessed from my iPad because every station between Texas and Louisiana is either religious or honky-tonk country, and none of us had a taste for either. Pandora’s Motown station fit the bill, kept us awake, had something all of us knew and could bee-bop along to, and seemed appropriate as this was sort of a Big Chill experience in some ways.

Lisa_and_Monica3We drove by Baton Rouge, which I had visited last year with my husband when he interviewed for a veterinary residency position at Louisiana State University (we wound up in Davis, CA, a lovely town, but I digress). I had never been so happy to see a familiar place!  A little after 4:30 am, we arrived in New Orleans. I was dropped off first based on my hotel location and the fact that I was presenting in a few hours. Bless their hearts! (This, I learned, is a pretty typical Southern phrase, and one that you say in earnest, but often times, out of sarcasm too!).

By the time I checked in and got upstairs to my hotel room, it was just about 5:00 am. I was to be standing in front of a room full of people that paid to attend the pre-conference workshop I was co-presenting in 3 hours. I had no luggage (it arrived at 7:30 am the next day), which meant no clothes or toiletries. Thankfully, my amazing colleagues came through for me, and I was brought a dress and shoes to wear, which fit perfectly I might add (I posted my clothes and shoe sizes on Facebook, with a plea for clothes back at the airport hours earlier when I saw the writing on the wall!). The hotel gave me a toothbrush and I borrowed other toiletries from my very understanding roommate that I woke up when I arrived. What about my undergarments you ask? Nothing is open at 5:00 am, and even if they were, I was not about to roam the streets of New Orleans looking for underwear. So, after I showered, I not only dried my hair with the blow dryer, I also dried my underwear! (I kid you not.)

Lisa_and_Monica

Ready to present in my borrowed dress and shoes with Monica Ricci.

My co-presenter had a plate of breakfast food waiting for me in the room when I came down to present, which I gobbled up, along with a mug of hot tea. Then it was 8:00 am and time to begin. Despite having left my home in California more than 24 hours before, having no sleep, and dealing with the stressful travel events that unfolded, the show had to go on. Adrenaline kicked in, and I was ready to go. I stood before the group in someone else’s dress, another person’s shoes, my own (now clean and almost fully dry!) underwear, and thankfully, my own jewelry that I wore on the plane and happened to match my new outfit perfectly. I had my notes for the presentation in my carry on (and in my head as we had prepared for this for months), and my co-presenter had the slides ready to go on her Mac already hooked up to the projector.

We decided not to share my ordeal with the audience up front as we didn’t want it to pull focus. We thought it would have much more impact if we brought it up during the last section, Expect the Unexpected. Which brings me full circle to the question I asked the participants: “How committed are you?”

I did not intend to ask that question. But, as I stood in front of them, all of a sudden it seemed quite clear that this was the crux of the matter. Whether it is making a speaking engagement, or anything else in life that matters, the issue becomes how committed are we. There are many challenges we face, some bigger than others. We are constantly forced to make decisions. We often think of giving up. I certainly thought of it many times during my harried travel experience. I could have stayed overnight in Dallas and taken that flight the next morning, and told NAPO, my co-presenter, and the participants that I just couldn’t make it. Luckily, my co-presenter could have presented the entire workshop without me. But I did not want to let her down. I also did not want to let NAPO down who had chosen me for this role. I definitely did not want to let the participants down who had paid good money, and taken time out of their busy schedules to attend this workshop and expected it to have not one, but two, presenters. And I also did not want to let myself down. I was looking forward to this, and had the power to make it work. I was committed in every sense of the word.

Monica and I a few days later when I moderated the Ask the Organizer Panel - in my own clothes and shoes!

Monica and I a few days later when I moderated the Ask the Organizer Panel – in my own clothes and shoes!

And in the long run, that commitment not only affected me, but so many people around me. They rose to the occasion, helping me arrive safely, dressing me, feeding me, supporting me, and letting me know that I could do it, and they were there to help. That meant a lot to me and proved that when we are committed, it not only helps us, but has an amazing domino effect too. Word spread about what I went through to get there and how many people helped me in so many ways. It became bigger than just one person experiencing a Planes, Trains and Automobiles ordeal, and overcoming it. We felt like we were all in it together. And the participants of the workshop felt that they were important and mattered.

In the end, that may have been the most important lesson for all of us. Commitment is contagious.  It is much bigger than just the one experience or person. It creates a commitment wave that spreads wide and goes deep. And for that, I am grateful. I will gladly learn that lesson again, even if it means no sleep, driving overnight with strangers… and yes, blow drying my underwear!

Lisa Montanaro will move and manage Warwick firm from West Coast, thanks to technology

WARWICK — When Warwick resident Lisa Montanaro, a productivity consultant, success coach, business strategist, speaker and author, moves to California, she will not only continue to manage the business she established here, she will expand it.

In 2002, Montanaro founded LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, which offered a variety of services including organizing, business and life coaching and motivational speaking. The company prospered as it drew on her skills as a lawyer, educator, mediator and performer. Today that Warwick company is the organizing division of Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises.

Montanaro is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the National Speakers Association (NSA). She has presented professionally to audiences throughout the United States and has been interviewed by many television and radio hosts. And her written content has been widely published online and in print. She is the author of “The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life,” published by Peter Pauper Press.

For the past decade Montanaro has lived in Warwick with her husband, Sean, a veterinarian.

This July, the couple and their two dogs, Dublin and Jerry, will move to Northern California. The relocation was prompted when her husband secured a prestigious three-year residency in veterinary internal medicine at the University of California at Davis.

But with modern communications technology, Montanaro, who was already traveling and serving clients throughout the nation and beyond, can simply expand her client base while continuing to conduct business as usual for those back East.

Headed in this direction
In the past few years, Montanaro has achieved success with expanding her business model and services, publishing a book and doing national speaking engagements. This path has allowed her to realize that she can live anywhere while her husband pursues his specialization in the field of veterinary internal medicine.

 

“I have been moving in the direction of a more global/virtual business model for years with coaching, consulting, speaking and online programs, and this has surely forced me to really change over,” she said. “But I am keeping the business open here and making my business bi-coastal. I plan to come back to this area every few months to do speaking engagements and book time servicing my clients in the New York area.”

Montanaro has a residential organizing associate, Camille O’Connor, and other team members that assist her as needed so even if she is not physically here, people who want to get organized can still do so under her business umbrella. And for those who want to work with Montanaro one-on-one, they can get on a wait list for the next time she returns or they can work with her virtually by phone, Skype and e-mail. For coaching, consulting and speaking, distance and geography are no longer a factor.

“Many of my clients and I have never met in person,” she explained, “and yet we have successfully co-created their business ventures, career transitions and life changes together. And I already travel for national speaking engagements, so the only thing that will change is the airport I use.”

As much as she is excited about this new venture, Montanaro admits she will miss Warwick.

“It will always hold a special place in my heart,” she said. “I have lived here for 10 years, and it has been an awesome decade that I will cherish. I chose to live here for the beauty and open space, but now realize that it’s true beauty is the people.”

Essential information
Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises can be contacted by calling 845-988-0183 in New York or 530-302-5306 in California. Visit www.LisaMontanaro.com.

By Roger Gavan

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to
decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

~ Jane Goodall

Many people believe that they have one true vocational calling. That may be true. But for some of us, we have multiple areas of expertise and talents and a thirst to share them all with the world. It is this sense of adventure and drive for reinvention that ultimately led me to create
LM Organizing Solutions, LLC (LMOS).

My first calling was as a performer. I spent my childhood singing, acting and dancing, and wanted to go professional. But as I matured, I started to fall in love with the law, and switched gears as a young adult, pursuing a pre-law course of study. I never gave up performing but, rather, turned it into a wonderful hobby that continues to this day.

Another great passion of mine was to work with the deaf. My cousins are deaf–a lovely married couple that was a generation older than me. When I visited and saw them signing with each other, and with their two hearing children, I was enthralled and vowed to learn this beautiful, expressive language. Thus, when I graduated from college and was admitted to law school, I deferred admission for one year to teach at the New York School for the Deaf in White Plains, NY.

I was hooked! I loved teaching deaf students, and developed proficiency for American Sign Language. A year later, I decided to continue teaching and attend law school in the evening.

Upon my graduation from law school, I practiced employment, labor, education and disability law for 9 ½ years. Although I had a profound respect for the law, I did not appreciate the way it was practiced in our society. It became too negative in the hands of those that wanted to use it to fight. I started to become restless and knew that there were other ways I could share my talents and expertise with people and organizations to improve the world. I did a lot of soul searching and arrived at the conclusion that I needed to leave the traditional practice of law and become an entrepreneur in order to truly make a difference.

During that time of career transition, I realized that I had been organizing people’s lives on an “amateur” level my whole life, and that my organizing and coaching skills transcended my work as a lawyer, teacher, mediator, writer, speaker, and performer.

In 2002, I launched LMOS, which serves as the umbrella for my areas of expertise, and provides a platform to offer a variety of services to clients.  Through LMOS, I am able to offer organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations.  These three main focus areas allow me to combine my lifelong passion for creating order with my skills gained as a lawyer, educator, and performer.  LMOS gives me the ability to enact positive, proactive change.  My clients rely on me for leadership, guidance, support, encouragement, and coaching.

I now consider myself a multi-passionate entrepreneur. I took a leap of faith and created a business that allows me to meld together many different, but related, “callings” at the same time, while helping people live better lives and run better companies and organizations. The result has been both successful and rewarding.

Warm regards,

 

Copyright 2009 © Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

I am always amazed at how travel can improve your business and your life. Recently, my husband and I visited the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Lucia. It was a fantastic vacation by all accounts. The island is a marvel of nature with soaring peaks, an active volcano, lush rainforests, volcanic sand beaches, etc. We stayed at a really special place called Ti Kaye Village Resort and booked through a wonderful local company named Serenity Tours. I was able to unplug from my busy life back home, and truly enjoy a tropical escape. However, I did not turn my business brain off just because I was on vacation. To the contrary, I carefully observed and realized that travel in general, and the people of St. Lucia in particular, can teach us a lot about how to run successful businesses and live better lives. Here are the lessons learned.

  • Great Customer Service Gets Noticed – We all know how important good customer service is. But how many businesses truly excel at customer service? At Ti Kaye, the little touches made a big impact. The check-in procedure gave us a glimpse of how amazing the service is. You arrive and are given a complimentary drink (rum punch!), a banana leaf necklace is placed around your neck, you sit in the open air bar enjoying the view, and the manager comes over to introduce herself and tell you about the resort. You sign one piece of paper, give a credit card, and then are shown to your cottage, where your bags are already waiting for you. What got our attention was how personalized it was, and how it didn’t feel like a traditional check-in. There’s no lobby. You’re sitting at an open-air bar with an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea. Another example of the excellent customer service is the complimentary neck and shoulder massages before dinner. (Don’t even get me started on the spa!) It was the little things that made a big difference, and truly got our attention. From a business standpoint, customer service is not only still king, but gets noticed and creates true fans of your business.
  • Make Your Clients Feel Special by Personalizing the ServiceOur tour guide from Serenity Tours, John, actually took the time before he met us to find out what we do for a living, and then weaved it into the conversation. For example, he saw that I do motivational speaking on my website, and commented how much he loves Tony Robbins and finds motivational speaking so inspirational. He found out that my husband is a veterinarian, and shared that his sister-in-law is also a veterinarian. He offered to arrange for us to tour her vet practice on the island. That type of personalized approach in going deep with your clients, researching them, and really taking the time to find out what makes them unique goes a long way. We truly felt special. I have no doubt that Serenity does that for all of its clients, as all service-based business owners should do.
  • Manners & Friendliness Count – St. Lucians are friendly, warm, and open people, and this makes visitors feel welcome and appreciated. This is something we can all benefit from in life and in our business with our clients. Manners and friendliness make a difference! For example, they call elder women “Mom” in the British tradition as a sign of respect. We noticed it and thought it was a nice touch. We were always greeted with a friendly salutation, thanked for our service, and were even treated to some warm, big hugs when saying good-bye. Treat your clients with respect, mind your manners, and engage them with warmth and affection.
  • Challenge Yourself – There are twin volcanic peaks on the island called The Pitons. You can hike Gros Piton, which is 2600 feet high. It is a serious physical challenge, but also a mental one. It took us 2 hours to reach the summit, and then 2 hours to hike back down. It is a difficult hike as the trail is very rocky so you have to really watch your footing, and it is steep. But, it is worth it! The views from the top are incredible! Doing something like that when you are traveling, or even in everyday life, can remind you of your own strength and resilience personally and professionally. Are there new business ideas that you are dying to implement but have been holding yourself back? Challenge yourself. The rewards may be amazing once you reach the “summit.”
  • Be Authentic – We loved hearing about the history of the people that live near Gros Piton in the community called Fond Gens Libres (land of the free). The community was originally formed of Royalists escaping the guillotine during the French Revolution, and then slaves that had escaped or been freed (St. Lucia abolished slavery in 1834.) There are only about 100 descendents of those original ancestors living in the community of Fond Gens Libre today, and they are fiercely independent. They stand true to their beliefs and way of life. Their example serves as a powerful reminder to stand by your beliefs, your views, and be authentic to your true self personally and professionally.
  • Give Prospects a Free Taste – At the resort where we were staying, there is a lovely secluded beach called Anse Cochon. And there are some local “beach dudes,” which is their official term according to the St. Lucians. One is known as the Fruit Man. He climbs trees every morning and fills up his kayak with coconuts, bananas, and a number of other delicious tropical fruit. He then kayaks out to the visiting catamarans that come to the cove for snorkeling excursions. We would watch him and think, “Do people really buy from him?” “How does he make a living as there are not that many tourists on this secluded beach?” We soon had our answer. While we were swimming one day, he kayaks over to us, cracks open a coconut and says, “Taste.” So of course, what do we do? We taste. And it is this fresh, delicious coconut water, surrounded by fresh coconut meat. We are in heaven. He tells us that he will bring us another one later in the week, and if we really love it, then we can pay him for both. We get another one a day or two later, and then a third one on our final day, and we pay him for all three. That’s when it dawns on me that Fruit Man is an amazing sales person. Why? Because he gave us a free irresistible taste of what he sells, and once we experienced it, we were hooked! This is a great example of giving your clients a free taste of your services and expertise. Whether it is a free monthly e-zine, a preview teleclass, a free phone consultation, a free special report or article, a Facebook Fan Page where you post tips or provide extra value, etc. Don’t be stingy with your expertise and content, as it will come back to you in sales and fans – at least three-fold if the Fruit Man is any lesson.
  • Rejuvenate & Refresh – Unplugging, decompressing, relaxing, and leaving the daily grind of your life is a great opportunity to rejuvenate and refresh so that you come back ready to face your life and work again. So make time for travel and vacations. They are an important part of staying fresh. Besides, you just may learn some fantastic business lessons too!

Copyright © 2010 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2009. Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and operate productive and profitable businesses. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for success-minded individuals, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com. Lisa is the author of The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, published by Peter Pauper Press. Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

Question:

Many people are confused about using images in ezines, products or on their website that are captured from the web. I purchase most of my images from IStock, or other resources, but what are the clear cut rules?

I know Constant Contact offers free images as well as Microsoft clipart. And when writing about a product or resource (basically promoting them), is it safe to use a picture of the product or company logo? I’ve done this before.

You can get yourself into trouble by using images, can’t you? Even if you don’t see a “copyright” on them? I would assume that you can ask for permission and cite the image source. Could you could give advice to all those building their business about this? Thank you.

Answer:

Great question! I have a colleague that just got into trouble with this exact scenario for using an image without permission for her ezine that was copyrighted by a photographer.

Copyright protection begins the moment an original work is created and lasts for the creator’s life plus 70 years. Copyright protection extends to literature, music, plays, choreography, pictures, graphics, sculptures, architecture, movies, audiovisuals and recordings. So you are correct that images and photos are included and given copyright protection.

Copyright infringement is using someone else’s creative work without authorization or compensation, if compensation is appropriate. So, what we are dealing with here is a potential copyright infringement of someone else’s photo or image. (It may also be a trademark infringement if the image or logo is trademarked.)

The owner of the copyrighted material controls whether others can reproduce the work, prepare derivative work, distribute copies or display it. Using it without permission, even if you credit the creator, is not acceptable. Neither is copying others’ original work that does not carry a copyright symbol.

However, there are exceptions. One is “public domain.” But, don’t misinterpret the term “public domain.” Just because it is on the internet, does not mean it is public domain! Once a copyright expires, it enters the public domain. Public domain comprises all works that are no longer protected or never were, including works created prior to 1923, and works created between 1923 and 1963 on which copyright registrations were not renewed. Works created since 1989 are presumptively protected, and all government material, such as statutes and laws.

There is also a Fair Use Exception to copyright infringement that allows the limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holder. It is permitted for literary criticism, comment, news, reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. The courts use a four-factor balancing test to determine if fair use exception applies: 1) Purpose and character of use, 2) nature of use, 3) amount and substantiality of work used, and 4) effect on market value of work. Some people believe there is a 5th factor too that depends on the type of infringer (non-profit or for-profit) and its intentions and track record (a repeat offender or an unknowing and unintentional infringer).

The easiest way to avoid copyright infringement is to only use images from sources that specifically grant permission, some of which you listed, such as IStock. There is also a non-profit organization called Creative Commons that grants copyright permissions through a tiered approach ranging from selective protection to unlimited grant of permission. You can learn more at www.creativecommons.org. Be sure to look for a Creative Commons License on a website to see if the owner has specified which rights he or she is retaining, and which rights he or she is willing to release.

Another way to avoid copyright infringement is to ask to use the work. Sending a simple email request to use an image takes just a few minutes, and can save you a lot of turmoil (and potential legal fees!) in the long run. Approach people online on sites like Flickr. Let them know you’d like to use one of their images, which one, for what purpose, and offer to give them credit. Also, check Stock Exchange and Wiki Commons. Read through the restrictions and rights. Artists will usually list whether a photo may be used, for what purpose, and what type of credit must be given.

Despite all of the above, if you are using an official image of a product to promote it, the assumption is usually that the owner of that product is happy to have you assist in their marketing efforts. It has become common practice to use an image of a product when reviewing it, sharing it with your readers, and promoting it for people to purchase. Most companies that put a photo of their products on the internet are thrilled if you take that image and tell the world about that product. It is like having a global sales team! Indeed, if you are an affiliate of a product, there is an implied agreement for you to be able to use the images of that product in order to fully promote it as an affiliate. I often review products on my blog, and the companies that I do so for are only too happy to provide me with images.

The bottom line: When in doubt, use images that specifically grant permission. If you are unsure, do not use the image! Seek permission first or find a different image that is clearly permissible to use.

 

Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2011. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com.  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

As summer is “off-peak” for many businesses, it couldn’t be a better time to engage in some business building activities. If business is slow, don’t fret! Use this time wisely to gear up for the fall rush. Change your mindset and look at the slow summer time as an opportunity to reinvest in your business. If you have funds set aside for slow periods, good for you. If not, then all you have on your side now is time. This may be the perfect time to do some of the business-building activities that you never have the time to do when you are too busy working in the business. This may also be a golden opportunity for professional development, reflection, and brainstorming.

If time is on your side this summer, here are some ways to reinvest in your business. They will stimulate and rejuvenate your business. Come fall, you will be ready to prosper and succeed with a new and improved business.

  1. Audit Your Business – Do you have adequate insurance in place? Is your client contract in need of some revamping? Are there any policies or procedures that need tweaking? This is a great time to examine your business to see if there are any areas that need improving and get to work on them.
  2. Get Out and Network – When business owners are crazy busy with work, they often do not make the time to network and feed the funnel. Summer is a great time to attend live networking events with chambers of commerce, business networking groups, and the like. Be visible, so when the money starts flowing again, your business will be top of mind.
  3. Sharpen Your Skills – We all know how important professional development is to success, but many entrepreneurs short change their professional development when business is booming. If time is abundant, attend a conference, or take a teleclass or webinar. There is a plethora of offerings available in every price range nowadays. This may be the time to get certified in your area of expertise, take continuing education courses, or just explore some educational options that would be beneficial to you and your business.
  4. Develop a New Product, Program, or Service – If you have been itching to add on a new product, program, or service, develop and test it now. When business picks up again, your new offering will be in place and ready to go.
  5. Keep Advertising – The first thing most business owners do when cash flow takes a nosedive is to stop advertising. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Why? Because if all the other business owners are pulling ads, you will be the last one standing. If a prospect is looking for what you have to offer, they will find you. There will be less competition and clutter for a prospect to sift through.
  6. Get Testimonials From Clients – We all know how powerful testimonials can be, but when many business owners get busy, they forget to ask. Do it now, while you have the time. Then put those testimonials to good use on your website and in business marketing materials.
  7. Incorporate Your Business – If you have toyed with the idea of incorporating or becoming an LLC, now is a great time to do so. You will be able to research which business entity makes the most sense, work with a business coach or attorney, and file the necessary paperwork. Come fall, you will have all of your ducks in order.
  8. Update Your Marketing Materials – Have you been eager to create a new logo, redesign your website, or get new professional photographs taken? The time for this could not be better. Approach professionals that can assist you with these projects. You may be pleasantly surprised at the rates you can secure.
  9. Hire an Employee or Try Out an Independent Contractor – If you have been grappling with the idea of hiring an employee or independent contractor for a while, now is an ideal time. Take the time to interview properly and try someone out before you get so busy again that it becomes a distant and fleeting thought.
  10. Familiarize Yourself with Tax Deductions – Perhaps you never took the time to really learn which tax deductions can be taken. Even if you have an accountant, a basic understanding of what deductions you can take will help you track expenses better throughout the year. Take the time to learn how to maximize business deductions and keep more money in your pocket when business starts booming again.

Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2011. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com.  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

I’m hearing a lot these days about business reinvention. And it certainly seems like a great idea. But I think that a complete business overhaul is not only unjustified much of the time, but can be a risky move.

So instead, I’d like to propose the idea of a business “remodel”, which is more along the lines of a home remodel. When you remodel your home, you generally keep the existing structure and foundation. The changes are distinct for sure, but do not involve knocking down your entire home. Rather, the remodel may involve adding an addition, repainting a room, finishing a basement, etc.

Likewise, you can remodel your business in distinct and powerful ways that cause a huge shift in your delivery of services, income stream, target market, or visibility as an expert. But a business remodel needs to be justified, strategic, and executed in such a way that the remodel doesn’t cause too much turmoil in your business. When you remodel a home, for example, it needs to be done in a way that causes the least disruption to your living environment. Yes, you are willing to suffer some inconvenience in the short run knowing you will wind up with a beautiful newly remodeled home. But you wouldn’t plan a remodel that forces you to live in absolute chaos unless you can move out during the construction and find another place to live. Easier said than done!

With your business, you can’t necessarily find a new business “home” while conducting a business remodel because you still need cash flow. Sure, there are exceptions for those business owners that saved a ton of money to fund a remodel, but even in that case, it would mean dropping out of the business for a temporary period, which is not going to leave you top of mind with your target market.

So what is the best way to approach a business remodel and what might it include? Here are some tips and guidance.

  • Take Stock – Approach your business remodel in a strategic manner by taking stock of where you are in your business at present, and where you’d like the business to be in the future. Assess what you love about your business, what is working, and what brings you and your clients success and results. Also, pay serious attention to what is no longer working, what you have outgrown, and what your clients don’t seem to need or want anymore. Only when you have done this business assessment will you be in the right frame of mind to determine what shape your business remodel will take.
  • Blueprint the Remodel – Just like you would with a home remodel, you need to draft a blueprint for your business remodel. Add what the remodel will include, how long you expect it take, what players need to be involved, how much money you need to finance the remodel, etc. Consider getting assistance from a trusted advisor during this stage. Approach the blueprint like you would a business plan so that it can serve as the framework for the remodel during the weeks/months/years of the remodel.
  • Add On – One way to remodel your business that is safe and smart is to actually add onto it. This can be in the form of an additional income stream like a new service offering, product, or program. It can also be achieved by partnering with another business owner to engage in a joint venture together. It can take the form of offering or joining an affiliate program. The list is as long as your imagination, and what is the best fit for your business.
  • Take Away – A business remodel can also include taking something away from your business that you know is not working, is draining your energy or your bank account, is not a big seller, or you just plain don’t love offering anymore. In business, we often keep saying yes and piling up things. But a smart business remodel can be about saying no and streamlining or micro-focusing on what truly works, and brings you and your clients great results.
  • Thing Big, but Start Small – Once you get the idea of a business remodel in your head, it is hard not to get excited and maybe a little carried away. It is great to be excited and have passion around your business remodel. In fact, go ahead and think big! But then come back down to reality, and start small. Take the remodel one step at a time. Don’t bite off more than you can chew or your remodel will crash and burn.
  • Mind Your Existing Business – Another common problem with a business remodel is that while you are in the process of remodeling, you neglect your overall business. Make sure that you are still “minding the store” while remodeling. It is easy to get caught up in the remodel, as it is very exciting and usually evidence of where your future lies. But unless you have unlimited funds and a celebrity status, your clients most likely still want to buy from the business you have now. If you absolutely want to be free of the business you have now, then realize that you are not just remodeling, you are reinventing your business! And that is a horse of a different color. If that is what is truly happening, then you will be following a different path. You may need to close shop altogether, sell your business, completely revamp or rebrand it, or get employees or independent contractors to run it for you.
  • Roll Out Your Remodel– At some point, your remodel will either be complete, or at least far enough along, that you want to officially roll it out and shout it from the rooftops. But consider that you may want to go public with your remodel even sooner than that. Getting people involved in your remodel can be a great strategic decision. In fact, you can engage your clients in the remodel by asking them to assist in some way. For example, let’s say the remodel is to add a service offering. You can survey your clients (and warm prospects) well in advance to see what service offering is missing from your business that they desperately want and need. There are many other ways to get others involved in your remodel, but make sure you do so wisely so you don’t scare your clients into mistakenly thinking that you may be jumping ship or abandoning them.
  • Enjoy the Remodel Results – If you approach your remodel wisely and execute it strategically, you will be able to enjoy the results — and so will your clients!

Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2008. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com.  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

Large companies in Corporate America usually conduct business retreats, known also as Corporate Retreats. Business retreats are often held towards the end of the year, and serve to assess performance for the past year, and set milestones for the coming year. The retreat creates a document that is used as a business blueprint, serving as a benchmark to measure against. Some companies will make this document public, such as in an Annual Report. Others will keep it as an internal document that acts as a powerful tool for business success.

However, what if your business is small, or you are self-employed? Does this mean you miss out on this transformative business activity just because you are not a “big gun”? No way! Large companies in Corporate America haven’t cornered the market on business retreats. If you are self employed or a small business, you can conduct your own business retreat. Here are some tips to guide you in the process so your business retreat is a success.

  • Choose topics to focus on. Most business retreats are comprehensive, covering marketing, financials, employees and contractors, clients, business growth, etc. Choose what topics your retreat will focus on, and how in depth your retreat will go into each topic. Having an overall plan or checklist of what the retreat will cover will help you plan and implement it with success
  • Gather all of the necessary data. Usually, a business retreat will involve a certain level of assessment, and “looking back”. Therefore, it is important to have all of the business data needed at your fingertips. This includes return on investment statistics for marketing and advertising, financials, client lists, etc. Knowing the numbers and stats of your business will prove vital as you assess and measure performance and create new milestones and benchmarks going forward.
  • Get all of the players involved. If your business has any key players, make sure they are available in person, by phone, or bv email for your business retreat. This includes marketing reps, assistants, bookkeepers, accountants, etc. Making sure that all players are on speed dial or stand by will avoid a frustrating business retreat where you need information and can’t get it at that time.
  • Record and blueprint. Make sure to record performance measurements, trends, and any other stats that are necessary for business assessment and future planning. You can do this on a simple word processing document or spreadsheet, or even audio record the retreat to listen later or get it transcribed.
  • Choose realistic and success-driven goals. As you create the blueprint to use in your business for the future, make sure that your goals are realistic and success-driven. This means creating milestones and benchmarks that can be achieved and are not too pie-in-the-sky, while also stretching your business to reach higher and further. Think where you want the business to be at next year’s business retreat and what it will take to get it there. That will help you create the best plan of action.
  • Accountability is key. Create a system for accountability so that all of the work put in for the business retreat does not go to waste. Make sure to consider implementation. Who will implement the blueprint from the business retreat? How will it be implemented? Make sure to designate implementation time into the business calendar. Consider getting assistance from a business coach, joining a mastermind group, or partnering with a colleague to ensure that accountability is built into the business retreat blueprint.

With a little planning, an open mind, and a willingness to put in some hard work at assessing your business, a business retreat can be a huge success. So go ahead and act like the big guns – get that business retreat on the calendar and make it happen!

Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2008. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com.  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

In this “new economy,” many business owners are stressing about securing enough business to make a profit. In the extreme, this often leads to saying yes to any and all prospects, projects and types of work. Unfortunately, this may not be the best business strategy! Indeed, saying no to business is sometimes the smartest thing to do. Not convinced? Let me demonstrate.

Prospect is not a good “fit” – Let’s face it, not all clients are the right “fit” for you and your business. In some instances, there is even a such thing, dare I say, as a bad client. If your antenna goes up during the initial meeting, phone call or consultation alerting you to the fact that this client will not respect you, tests your boundaries, needs more assistance than you can provide, or in any other meaningful way is just not a good fit, listen to that instinct and say no! There are ways to turn away business that are polite, tactful, useful, and firm, and sometimes we just have to learn when it is right to say no to a prospect or client. Turning away business can be a painful process for those unfamiliar with the concept, but it can save you and your business in the long run.

Saying yes to every prospect may unfortunately mean saying no to your Ideal Client – Every business has a Target Market and within that market lies the Ideal Client. You know who they are — the people or organizations that really need your assistance, are fully ready for the transformative services or products that you provide, respect and value you and your business, and can afford to make the investment to work with you. They are the ones that you keep in mind when developing programs and products to ensure they fit your client base. We all know there is only so much time and energy to work with clients. Any time you take on a new client, there is a loss of potential opportunities elsewhere that could slip by because you are too busy. That is referred to as Opportunity Cost — the cost of opportunities that you will miss by taking on each client. Therefore, be very clear when you say yes that the prospect fits into your Ideal Client profile (or at least gets close to it!). If not, you may actually be saying no to your Ideal Client when he/she comes knocking.

Quantity of work may make quality suffer – If you say yes to every prospect, project and type of work, you may wind up spreading yourself too thin, causing the quality of your work to suffer. In an effort to overcome the economic downturn and make more money, many business owners are saying yes, yes, yes. This can lead to burn out, decrease in quality of work, and damage to your overall business reputation. Resist the urge to say yes to all work, unless you have the infrastructure in place to handle it.

Focus on Value and Results – The best business owners realize that what they are truly selling is value and results. When you view yourself in this light and not as merely providing products or services, you very quickly realize that you need to say yes only to the clients that you can bring your best value and results to. You also set yourself apart from the “competition” because value and results are not easily measurable, the way tangible products and services are. The value is in the client’s mind and will almost always far outweigh the price they paid.

Saying no to work may seem like an ill-advised business strategy, but in the long run, you will come to see that it is a meaningful and profitable way of doing business. You leave yourself open for the Ideal Clients that you should be serving, and you don’t drain yourself and the business by trying to serve everyone. Resist the urge to be all things to all people, and focus on what you do best for the target market that wants, needs and can afford it. Saying no will be difficult as you turn away the ill-matched prospect with money to burn and a desire to buy, but the flip side is saying yes and then resenting it for not being true to yourself and the business that you have created.

Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2011. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com.  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.