Blog Archive

Story: The Dry Cleaner: First Impression On Your New Customers

  Len Markidan 

Today, a story about my local dry cleaner.
(Yes, I know. Stay with me here.)
Not long after we moved to a new neighborhood about 8 months ago, we had a pile of clothes that needed to be dry cleaned.
The problem was that my previous dry cleaner was far enough away to make getting there and back on a regular basis a hassle.
And, to be honest, I was never that excited about going there anyway.
So I did a quick search on Yelp, and was a little bit surprised by what I found.
A local cleaner—only a few blocks from me—stood out from the rest of the list in a big way. Not only did they have 4.5 stars (something I've never seen for a business like dry cleaning… who gets that excited about pressed shirts?), but they had more than a few raving reviews!
Intrigued, I walked over there that very afternoon to drop off my clothes, and was hit with my first pleasant surprise as I walked through the front door.
"Good afternoon", said the smiling man behind the counter. "How are you doing today?"
Not exactly the welcome I was used to.
I greeted him and put my clothes on the counter.
"I don't recognize you," he said, still smiling. "Is this your first time here?"
It was, I told him. I was new to the neighborhood.
"How exciting! Welcome. And thank you very much for coming by. I really appreciate it, and I'll take good care of your clothes for you."
Within a minute of entering the store, I was having a conversation with a guy who felt like an old friend, and who, more than simply wanting my business, wanted to make sure I was comfortably settling into my new home.
Soon after, he printed my receipt and handed it to me, pointing to a line toward the bottom showing a 10% discount.

"To thank you for being a new customer. See you soon."

The Power Of A Magical First Impression

When I walked out of that dry cleaner that day, I was sold.
I was going to be a loyal, long-term customer.
Now, of course the work had to be good. And it was.
But I don't have the knowledge or expertise to know if their dry cleaning is any better than the work done by the dozen other cleaners in my neighborhood.
And, I suspect, neither do most of their customers.
But the way that they made me feel on that first visit—like they genuinely cared about me and my clothes—is what is going to keep me coming back.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou
I've since learned that these dry cleaners are not the cheapest in the area. Nor are they necessarily the most convenient for me (there's another less than two blocks away from my house).
But I'm still a loyal and happy customer.
And a lot of it has to do with that first impression.

3 Ways To Leave A Lasting First Impression On Your Customers

It would be a mistake to think that the first impression in this story was all about the 10% discount.
It's not about the discount, and simply offering a discount is NOT going to accomplish what we're after here.
A magical first impression is about recognizing that the customer has a choice, and showing genuine appreciation that they chose you.
That doesn't have to mean any sort of grand gestures; my story certainly didn't have any.
Below are five ways you can create a lasting first impression that will keep your customers coming back for more, and more, and more…

1) A Personal Note

When someone signs up for your service or buys from you, sending a heartfelt, personal note is a great way to make it clear how grateful you are for their business.
And if it comes from an actual person (it should!), it can also go a long way in beginning to build a personal relationship with that customer.
Here's the note we use at Groove, which also helps us collect great feedback on what our customers hope to accomplish with Groove:

2) A Magically Simple Onboarding Flow

A super-simple onboarding flow (how you guide a customer through the initial steps they need to take inside of your product) shows them that you respect their time and attention, and want to make life easy for them; a clear sign of a business that's looking out for you.
One of the reasons that Slack has become such a success is the magic of their onboarding flow; it's ridiculously easy.
Slack walks you through the steps that they know successful users complete quickly:

Check out our guide to building a great onboarding flow, and always keep this simple rule in mind: your users should never be left wondering what to do next, or why.

3) A Welcome Gift

Another effective way to ingratiate yourself with your customers is with a meaningful welcome gift.
In a world where most of our business is done digitally, physical gifts are rare, and anything from a t-shirt—like MailChimp and Rackspace send to new customers—to a simple handwritten note can make a big impact.

For more welcome gift ideas, see our customer gifting guide.

A Great First Impression Can Last Forever

As customers, we're not used to businesses making amazing first impressions, because most businesses simply don't bother.
But that's why focusing on that first impression can be such a huge win, setting your business far, far apart from the competition.
What's the best first impression you've ever gotten from a business? Have you had success with optimizing your own business' first impre ssion?
Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He's focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers

Top 10 Project Management Certifications in Demand

In the past decade or so, no other certification has consistently featured in top 10 certificatio\ns in the world as project management. In fact, project management certifications have become the most sought-after certifications that recruiters look for in a professional across the globe. In the face of competitive and complex service based business environment, anything and everything can be a project, and in this regard project management certifications will be high on the list of professionals worldwide.
There are many project management certifications for professionals to choose from, but then they face dilemma as to which project management certification to go for? The answer is very simple; it usually depends on your learning objective, recognition and salary remuneration. Below mentioned are top 10 project management certifications that are hugely in demand by professionals worldwide.
  1. Project Management Professional (PMP)®:

    Project Management Professional (PMP) is the most sought-after project management certification around the world. It is like the 'gold standard' among project management certifications. The certification imparts in-depth knowledge in handling of projects with planning, scheduling, controlling and monitoring and closing out the project. PMI® the parent organization continuously works with the enterprises and academia all over the world to keep the certification relevant to address changing business demands.
    According to the PMI's "Project Management Salary Survey 8th Edition", PMP credential holders will earn nearly 17% more salary than their uncertified counterparts.
    Having a PMP credential demonstrates that you can understand the global project management language. A PMP certification is widely-recognized and is not based on one specific methodology; professionals with PMP credential are more flexible and adaptable to different industries, market segments and geographic locations.
  2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

    CAPM is an entry-level project management certification for managers with less experience in handling projects. It is a precursor to the PMP certification and is awarded by PMI. Than jumping directly to the PMP certification, CAPM acts as the stepping stone for the demanding / uncompromising PMP certification.
    According to PMI's Talent Gap Report, close to 16 million new project management jobs will be created by 2020 in 7 project intensive industries. There is clearly a huge demand for professionals with right project management certification.
  3. PRINCE2 Practitioner: 

    PRINCE2 certifications by AXELOS are also widely-recognized project management certifications across the globe. They are a lot more popular in the UK and other European countries, but slowly are finding more takers for these certifications worldwide. PRINCE2 Certifications are divided into three certifications in PRINCE2 Foundation, PRINCE2 Practitioner and PRINCE2 Professional. Professionals with relevant experience either choose PRINCE2 Practitioner or PMP certification. PRINCE2 stands for Projects in Controlled Environments and has its own project management methodology than the general project management knowledge like PMP.
    According to "PayScale", the highest average annual salary for a PRINCE2 Practitioner professional can go up to ~USD 100,000 depending upon their experience.
  4. CompTIA Project+: 

    CompTIA Project+ is an entry-level certification for professionals; this certification is on par with PMI's CAPM certification and is not that rigorous project management certification. CompTIA has a good reputation as a certification provider across the globe and their Project+ certification is widely-recognized.  The CompTIA Project+ certification demonstrates individual's communication and business skills needed to lead and direct projects with confidence, and complete projects on time and stay within the budget.
    Professionals opting for this certification should have one year experience in participating, managing and directing small or medium sized project. With enterprises increasingly requiring employees with project management skills, CompTIA Project+ certification will help you expand the scope of your project management career.
  5. Master Project Manager (MPM)®

    The Master Project Manager (MPM) certification awarded by American Academy of Project Management (AAPM), which is a direct rival to the PMI's PMP certification. The AAPM represents itself as a 'board certification" and works on a professional licensure model. The whole certification process depends on the board review of participant's resume and job experience. Professionals who meet the job experience can qualify to get a certification from AAPM programs and take AAPM-approved training classes for clearing their MPM exam.
  6. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)®

    Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) is a very popular project management certification which is showing a great exponential growth year-on-year. Enterprises around the world are embracing Agile methodologies to achieve more for less and to streamline processes. There is an increasing demand for IT professionals who have CSM credential and can handle projects in an Agile environment.  For project managers who are starting their Scrum journey, not only CSM is an entry-level credential that validates your understanding of Scrum principles and values but also gives you in-depth knowledge of implementing Scrum on projects.
    There are various Scrum master certifications available, but the best is Certified ScrumMaster provided by Scrum Alliance, a nonprofit organization offering the certification to encourage the adoption of Scrum practices across the globe. Currently there are close to 400,000 Certified ScrumMasters worldwide, and the number just keeps on growing – indicating the importance of Agile project management methodologies in enterprises today.
  7. Certified Project Manager (CPM)®

    Certified Project Manager (CPM) is a widely-recognized project management certification in the Pacific Rim regions and is provided by International Association of Project and Program Management (IAPPM). The main objective of IAPPM is to promote professional project management and demonstrate efficient usage of resources such as money, time and people in a project. Some of the other IAPPM credentials include: Certified Project Professional (CPP); Certified Project Director (CPD); and the Certified International Project Auditor (CIPA).
    This CPM certification is somewhere in between the MPM and PMP certification with regards to the no. of years experience, project hours etc.  The CPM certification exam focuses more towards project management skills such as IT, marketing, integration, communications, finance, HR, risk and issue management and quality management.
  8. Project Management in IT Security (PMITS): 

    IT security skills are quickly becoming the most required skills by recruiters across the globe. In the face of terrorist activities and cyber terrorism, Project Management in IT Security (PMITS) governed by the EC Council addresses information security of nations at large. The PMITS credential demonstrates a professional's ability to manage unique requirements of IT security of an organization.
    To get certified in PMITS, one has to have at least two years of work experience in the IT security department and an educational background that shows focus towards security. One can also opt for EC-Council training program before taking up the PMITS exam.
  9. Professional in Project Management (PPM): 

    Professional in Project Management (PPM) is a mid-level credential awarded by The Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM). The certification clearly focuses on a broad-based project management knowledge that highlights resource allocation, adaptability to change, effective communication, clear direction and provide quality deliverables at minimal risk. The target audience for this PPM certification is mid-level to experienced project managers who oversee risk and crisis management and who are involved in daily management of projects.
  10. Certified Project Director (CPD): 

    The Certified Project Director is a globally-recognized credential awarded by GAQM is for senior and experienced project management executives.  Considered as one the prestigious level of project management certifications in the world, it demonstrates that project executives to acquire new skills to manage today's complex projects and programs – by managing risks, scope, quality and budget. Project managers with this credential will be able handle project teams and multiple projects with ease and carefully direct them towards successful completion.
There is a great demand for project managers across the globe and recruiters are looking at interesting experiences and well-recognized certifications than their traditional qualifications while hiring. As a project manager, you can take your career to the next level with a project management certification that suits you the best. These top 10 project management certifications are in great demand and having them will separate you from the rest of your uncertified counterparts which helps to land you a plum project management job.

Story: The Sinking Ship


There were three ships which were nearby when the Titanic sunk.

One of them was known as the Sampson. It was 7 miles away from the Titanic and they saw the white flares signaling danger, but because the crew had been hunting seals illegally and didn't want to be caught, they turned and went the opposite direction away from the Titanic. This ship represents us and people like us if we are so busy looking inward at our own sin and lives that we can't recognize when someone else is in need.

The next ship was the Californian. This ship was only 14 miles away from the Titanic, but they were surrounded by ice fields and the captain looked out and saw the white flares, but because the conditions weren't favorable and it was dark, he decided to go back to bed and wait until morning. The crew tried to convince themselves that nothing was happening. This ship represents those of us who say I can't do anything now. The conditions aren't right for it and so we wait until conditions are perfect before going out.

The last ship was the Carpathia. This ship was actually headed in a southern direction 58 miles away from the Titanic when they heard the distress cries over the radio. The captain of this ship knelt down, prayed to God for direction and then turned the ship around and went full steam ahead through the ice fields. This was the ship that saved the 705 survivors of the Titanic.
When the captain looked back at the ice fields they had come through, he said Someone else hands must have been at the helm of this ship! This ship represents those who would pray to God for direction and then go without hesitation.
Life whispers in your soul and speaks to your heart. We need to take time to listen and to these whispers and take heed.

Working Towards Sustainability

Working Towards Sustainability Environmental concerns are growing by the number, and it’s up to us collectively to look for ways to counter the current issues. However, in a study published by The Guardian, 2016 is said to be the year consumers stop caring about sustainability. With the drop in the price of oil, demand for crude becomes higher; making it difficult to stick to whatever sustainable plans governments have in mind. In fact, engineering and construction companies that offer support to fossil fuel firms continue to extract oil, showing no signs of slowing down. Although, despite the high demand for electronic items and oil-based machines, working towards becoming sustainable amidst these global fiascos should be of paramount importance. 

 So, let this post show you some effective ways on how you can help enhance sustainability around you to improve the environment.  

Stay self-sufficient We aren’t asking you to cut yourself off from the rest of humanity in a shed in the middle of a forest. Instead, you should take small steps that can eliminate environmental issues as well as save plenty of money by opting for self-sufficient activities and items. Grow a garden where you can produce fruit and vegetables. Consider switching to renewable energy like utilising solar panels. Avoid disposable grocery bags and carry your own reusable bags. These small steps can go a long way in help save the environment.  

Make conscious buys When going out for groceries or buying items for the house, buy sensibly. Always consider how your daily purchases could affect the environment. Most eco-friendly items have the following criteria: • Less packaging • Locally produced and supplied • Small in size There are many people who engage in impulse buying. People tend to think that material possessions can lead to happiness. However, impulse buying also leads to environmental issues, so be a smart buyer and avoid over purchasing on things you really don’t need.  

Rethink your waste Have you heard of that saying that ‘your trash can be someone else’s treasure?’ Living a sustainable life means knowing the ins and outs of recycling by heart. The best way to help the environment is pass on the things you don’t use to people who need them. Electronic waste is among the biggest issues governments are trying to counter. So, if you need to get rid of an old device, ask your network provider if they offer recycling programs where you can get great discounts when you buy a new device. It can be a win-win situation for both parties. Sustainability provides unparalleled personal satisfaction and accomplishments that help build a positive and healthy attitude. 

For more self-improvement tips, subscribe to the Daily Ten Minutes. How do you develop sustainability to help the environment? ---------------------- 

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources via Compfight cc

10 Actions that Build a Strong and Lasting Character

People strive, throughout life, to build strong personal characters, traits that reflect their purpose, passions, and values. Yet, as people who would like to build a strong character, we find it difficult. The difficulty lies in our resistance to the very circumstances that would lead us to grow.
This article will provide insights into the following questions: How does character differ from conduct? How does personal character lead to the growth of spiritual character? Why is a strong character important? How can we build a strong and lasting character that will have a positive influence on the lives of others as well as our own life?
How does character differ from conduct?
Simply stated, character lies within us, and conduct is action reflecting our inner qualities and level of development. Consider the following quotes by theologian E.M. Bounds:
"Conduct is what we do; character is what we are.
Conduct is the outward life; character is the life unseen, hidden within, yet evidenced by that which is seen.
Conduct is external, seen from without; character is internal--operating within.
Character is the state of the heart; conduct is its outward expression.
Character is the root of the tree; conduct is the fruit it bears."
How does personal character lead to the growth of spiritual character?
Character, as we usually think of it, is a temporary collection of personality traits that we develop during our time on earth. We build character with each choice, and it reflects our deepest values through our actions. Our personality, with all of its brain-stored character traits will end when our physical life is completed.
At the spiritual level, we have a much broader character that can also grow; and, unlike the character of human personality, it can continue to grow stronger eternally. It is by handling the challenges of life in ways that make character strong, that we also grow
stronger spiritually.

Why is a strong character important?
A strong character in daily life is a positive influence upon others. However, our character also influences our own lives, often unseen, moment by moment, for our inner state determines our actions, attitudes, and ultimate growth.
Emerson once wrote, "The force of character is cumulative." He was referring not only to the influence of character upon others, but of the expansion created in one's own spirit—in that "state of the heart" that E. M. Bounds mentioned. The development of personal character allows for the development of spiritual character. Our spiritual character can also become a lasting character if we accept the invitation to learn.
How can we build a strong and lasting character?
Here are ten examples of actions that build a strong and lasting character...
1. Practice patience when those around you are hurried.
2. Act with faith and diligence when others show mistrust or lack of commitment.
3. Be gentle when you meet with cruelty and harsh temperament.
4. Be courteous, even when others do not show courtesy.
5. Give generously to those who have nothing to give.
6. Communicate peace to those who are saddened or anxious.
7. Express gratitude for every experience and person you have known.
8. Act with self-control when dealing with those who are out of control.
9. Be encouraging to those who are discouraged.
10. Act with self-discipline, even when it is difficult to take correct actions.
This list could continue. The necessary actions will be different for each individual and will present some very important feedback for his or her inner work.
These actions may often seem very difficult. Their level of difficulty for each of us is a reflection—for our benefit—of our inner level of character development. The situations in which these actions are called for are those situations we must experience as continuing changes and challenges designed to teach us about ourselves. They invite us to begin to develop traits such as patience, faith, generosity, gratitude, and self-control. As we begin to allow these qualities to unfold within the heart, our conduct will naturally reflect outwardly those inner qualities.
All life experiences invite us to grow in spirit. In each circumstance, God's will is working to teach us about the ultimate state of love from which he created us to be unique individuals. May you experience the peace and love in His gift of a strong and lasting character.

7 Important Things to Have and Give In Your Marriage

LOVE : The special feeling that makes you feel all warm and wonderful.

RESPECT : Treating your spouse as you would like to be treated.

APPRECIATION : To be grateful for all the good things your spouse does for you.

HAPPINESS : The full enjoyment of each moment spent together with a smiling face.

FORGIVENESS : The ability to let things be without anger.

SHARING : The joy of giving without thoughts of receiving.

HONESTY : The quality of always telling the truth.

Story: Rich at Heart

 Once, a lady with her family was staying in a 3-star hotel for a picnic. She was the mother of a 6 month old baby.
"Can I get 1 cup of milk?" asked the lady to the 3-star hotel manager.
"Yes madam", he replied.
"But it will cost 100 bucks". "No problem", said the lady.
While driving back from hotel, the child was hungry again.
They stopped at a road side tea stall and took milk from the tea vendor
"How much?" she asked the tea vendor.
"Madam, we don't charge money for kid's milk", the old man said with a smile.
"Let me know if you need more for the journey". The lady took one more cup and left.
She wondered, Who's richer? The hotel manager or the old tea vendor?

​Who is poor?A wealthy woman goes to a boutique and tells the boy at the counter "Please show some cheap suit. It is my son's marriage and I have to give to my maid."
After sometime, the maid comes to the boutique  shop and tells the boy at the counter "Please show some expensive suits. I want to gift my Mistress on her son's marriage"
Poverty is in the mind or in the purse?

Sometimes, in the race for more money, we forget that we are all humans. Let's help someone in need, without expecting something in return. It will make us feel better than what money can.​

We are good as individuals but become better when we meet and blend with the right people.... Stay connected.

The world is full of nice people... If you can't find one... Be one.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Author: unknown

The Shadows

We already ARE everything we would like to BE.
There is no "improving" needed. What is needed is to unlearn, to take away all the cloudy games of the mind, to dispel the layers of fear, shame and guilt, to become aware of the conditioning, the beliefs, the superstitions. That is all. That is what some people call "darkness," "shadows."
Therefore as we ARE right now, with all of those "features;" we ARE not. There is not a unified presence but a multitude of "I's."
How could we think about changing the world? How could we think about changing ourselves?
We ARE not. Who is going to attempt those changes?
The mind and its beliefs. Someone who is not real yet.
We ARE imitations, conditioned minds, mostly unable to feel.
We may believe that we are feeling, but we are merely thinking that we feel.
How could we know anything if we do not know who we ARE?
I am not talking about the conditioned response: "I am a soul."
Even though that may be true, those words are of not use for someone who IS not. It is only an intellectual definition; very important for the mind to have, because then you believe "you know."
For someone who IS, those words are not necessary. BEING does not depend on definitions or concepts. It is not related with the trips of the mind.
The presence of who we ARE is clouded by the mind. Thus, the mind makes up several personalities who are continuously changing: Today "I am this," a few minutes later; someone else.
Gentle a minute ago, violent right now, sad a few minutes later and feeling guilty the next hour…
Could you BE alone and enjoy yourself? Don't you need someone to define who you ARE? To show you who you ARE? To bring the "best" of you? :-)
I am not saying that we should be alone. I am saying that someone else defines who we ARE, someone else gives meaning to our existence.
That is because we depend on the outside to BE. The outside colors and shapes our BEING. The mind takes those "teachings" and will remember them, to define us, to make us believe that we are safe…
If your mind is violent, how could you be compassionate?
By making (doing) effort to BE non-violent? By DOING something?
No! There is not DOING able to change BEING.
Our mind will be violent, no matter what we DO, no matter what we believe in, no matter how many "beautiful" experiences we may have, no matter how holy we act.
That is why, for a violent mind; any action no matter how "good" that may be, it will be tinted with violence.
If we repress our violence, still it will be there.
There is nothing we can DO about that violence. We could only be AWARE of it as it IS, as it appears. Without judgment, without a repressing thought; observe who you ARE at that moment. Don't hide in your morality, in your rationality, simply accept that who you ARE without labels.
That unconditional acceptance is the beginning of change.
That is the beginning of BEING Conscious.
You see, there are no beliefs here. No Paradise, no Samadhi, no Salvation, nothing to strive to; because that striving does not allow you to BE conscious of the "now," of who you ARE.
The pretty ideas of the future, the pretty stories of who you "could become" are not needed for the one who is AWARE.
Only the "NOW" is there. The mind does not have a chance to expand, to dream, to make up stories. You are AWAKE.
There is no hope to escape someplace, no belief to hide; but the unconditional acceptance of what is, as it is; the "now."
We cannot practice honesty. We can only allow it to happen.

Bad Parenting

​Some solid tips to adhere to...