Common Ground

As a child my family had gone on various vacations. It had probably been twenty-five years or more, since I had taken a trip with either of my parents. Several years ago when my Dad was in his late 70’s we went on a father daughter trip to Utah to enjoy some time together. It was just the two of us; he was going to hunt and I to hike, horseback ride and tour the surrounding area.   

We had researched various locations for many years but could never find a place that was acceptable to both of us. We finally found a location in Utah. When we arrived at Broad Mouth Canyon, we met another father and daughter duo, she was 13 and he in is his late 40’s.  A memory flashed before me, it was around the start of my teen age years, when I turned in my hip boots and pellet gun and my interests turned from outdoor sports to boys. I began to pull away from my father and his hobbies during those years.  At the time of our trip, I was in my 40’s looking to reconnect and find common ground with my dad. It was a precious opportunity and I intended to make the best of it.

We had adjoining cabins in the woods away from the main lodge. He would get up early in the morning and head out with his guide to hunt. I would get up later, take in the mountains, and go for my horseback ride.  We met back for lunch and dinner. He would tell me about his adventures during the day and I would talk about mine and my horseback ride through the canyon. There was something so special about those conversations with my dad they just delighted me. It was the exchange of our stories and the passion we both shared for our hobbies. We would reunite after dinner, play cards together and turn in for the night. I savored every moment with my dad.

My Father taught me many things in life, one of them being a love of nature, and I have a keen appreciation for it to this day. At night in the cabin, I would listen to the sounds of the elk bugling and other creatures stirring and hunting their prey. Dad went out early most days and came back later than the other hunters most nights. A group of us were already at dinner, when my dad and his guide Jaden finally arrived. I watched out for him, stashed a piece of dessert when I saw it might run out, and picked up a paper for him in the morning when I went for a drive. I wanted to protect him, watch his back while he was away from the lodge.

One of the last nights, I looked up at the mountains surrounding our cabin and I could barely make out the peak it was so grand. I realized then, that if I could measure my love for my Father, it would be as high as the mountain top. He is my hero, the strongest man I have ever known and no one other than my God can fill his shoes. I was so proud to be with him, proud to be his daughter. I could only hope that he was proud of me too. All I wanted from our vacation was to reconnect with my Dad and share some common ground.  It was a gift and I have treasured the memories for a lifetime.

You never know how long your parents will be with you, but I know this, I will always cherish the memories of our time together.  As we celebrate Father’s Day, remember those special times with your Dad or create new memories it’s never too late start again.  Happy Father’s Day!



New York City Girl

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Having grown up in New York State and spent my formative years as a New Yorker it occurred to me, I had never actually considered myself to be a tourist in Manhattan. New York City has over 50 million foreign and American tourists a year. Recently, I joined the ranks and visited Ellis Island, took in a show off Broadway, garnered a bird’s eye view from the World Trade Center and had a moment of silence at the 911 memorial.


When I moved to Florida one of my first jobs brought me to New York City as a sales manager. Throughout the years I would go to the city for meetings and events but I honestly had never done the attractions. I always hit Fifth Avenue for a little wardrobe refresh, if you consider that an attraction.


This year we went to New York City for spring break. Some of the highlights included; visiting Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the 911 memorial. We also dined at the newly renovated Tavern on the Green and ate Dim Sum in Chinatown.


We met up with my step daughter and the three grand kids who had never been to New York. Seeing the sites of the City through their eyes was interesting. I found myself wondering if they thought all New Yorkers’ were used to seeing a naked cowboy singing in the street, a dancing grown up baby and a number of furry characters roaming Time Square at all hours of the night.


Places to Go & Things to Do

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New York City has a plethora of great attractions, museums and things to do. For us, we had a mixed crowd of young kids and adults so we needed to strike a balance. When choosing your hit list, pick things that cater to the majority of the crowd. The kids were interested in the Natural History Museum, some gaming attractions, Times Square and some of the more traditional landmarks such as Ellis Island and the 911 Memorial.

IMG_8195We started our first day with a trip to Ellis Island. Our ancestry traces back to Ireland and Germany and it was interesting to see the names and photos of boats that carried our forefathers to this country. Once we arrived we spent time in the great hall and looked at all the amazing images and faces of the immigrants who came to the United States so long ago. The thought of traversing continents and oceans in hopes of a better life or in some cases to escape dire circumstances is a central theme of our great and welcoming country. There are samples lining the entrance walls of exams immigrants had to pass, photos of new comers suspected of being sick showing bright white chalk marks on their lapels and desperate faces of women and children carrying all their worldly possessions.

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The Ellis Island Ferry takes you to the Statue of Liberty. Be sure to reserve early or you won’t be able to go to the top. We went to the base and the views were inspirational looking up at Liberatas and seeing the broken chains at her feet. This flamboyant gift from France is a symbol of our liberty and the ties that bind all those who enter. After 911, the Statue of Liberty once again became a renewed symbol of hope and her true identity and meaning were a poignant reminder to us all, “Liberty Enlightening the World”.


After leaving Ellis Island we headed to the 911 memorial. This is a must see! There is no other event in my life and the life of many in my generation like 911. Staring into the reflection pools representing the two towers is truly a cathartic experience. Many memories come flooding back as I thought of where I was on that horrific day. Off in the distance one tree survived the attacks and was in full bloom on the day we visited. This symbol of life blossoming anew is truly touching.

Shopping-Eating-Drinking

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When in New York City, bring your wallet! There are plenty of choices including some wonderful and reasonable Deli’s. We choose Tavern on the Green for a special dinner, the Moonstruck Diner for a more casual lunch and Chinatown for some amazing Dim Sum at the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Other mentionable include The Oyster Bar and Cipriani’s near Grand Central Station.


The Tavern was fabulous! As we arrived and entered the bar area a swanky 40’s style band was playing. The lead singer was in character complete with a vintage dress and oversized microphone belting out classics such as Fly Me to the Moon and Mack the Knife. The dinner was amazing from both a taste and a service perspective. The ambiance was polished and harkened back to a flamboyant Mad Men era. We had a variety of dishes but the Coq Au Vin and the Rack of Lamb would be considered no less than divine. Don’t miss the Truffle Caesar Salad. You’ll want to beg for the recipe. Fun cocktails such as the Queens, Bronx and the Manhattan have you sipping and savoring every minute. There is even a kids menu with mini yummy cuisine for the smallest pallet.


Moonstruck has a great late night dessert menu and offers a quick breakfast option for all to enjoy. There are multiple locations and we never had a problem being seated even with a party of eight.

FullSizeRenderIf your feeling adventurous, head to Chinatown and try some Dim Sum. Be fair warned, you will be approached to buy every kind of souvenir and fake watch known to mankind. Be careful not to go into the back alleys. Our final destination was the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. This iconic restaurant has been family owned since 1920. Everything was delicious and plentiful. The sampler platter, original egg rolls and spare ribs top the list of delectable. The wait was over 30 minutes so be prepared to stand on the corner for a bit but the wait was worth it once inside.


Expert Insight

I am usually a big planner but this trip was much more flexible. There are some great apps that help you plan at the last minute and still get good deals. Instead of waiting in line in the rain for tickets to a show, try Today Tix. This app lets you peruse shows of interest, order tickets and has a red shirt representative meet you outside the theater at show time. We saw a great show called “Fully Committed” with Jessie Tyler Ferguson from “Modern Family.” He plays nearly 40 characters complete with voice accents and attitudes. The premise entails a struggling actor who works taking reservations at a fancy restaurant in New York. The show is hysterical and plays at the Lyceum Theater.


My Uber app crashed during our visit but my husband was able to load his up. This is a great benefit as they now have an Uber XL which can accommodate bigger parties for a ride. Of course the subway offers an easy, less time consuming and efficient way to get around the city.


We did encounter a bit of a snag at the hotel. Apparently, when you are between seasons some older hotels do not convert from a heating system to an air conditioning system. This caused a stifling few nights and very little sleep. To avoid the whole hot mess, ask some questions before booking with a follow up question about having in-room fans or windows that actually open.


I hope you’ll come along for my next road trip!

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, travel blogger and speaker and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com

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Are You For Real?

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Do you ever feel like you are living someone else’s life? Turns out this phenomenon has a name and is prevalent in 70% of high-functioning women in today’s society. Men, I don’t mean to exclude you as there are indications that you too suffer from impostor syndrome.


What is Impostor syndrome, also known as fraud syndrome?

According to Wikipedia, in 1978 two clinical psychologists named Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes coined the phrase while referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to accept their accomplishments as true and had a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Despite evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. They see proof of success but dismiss it as luck or timing. They attribute success as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. People with impostor syndrome tend to be perfectionists, which means they’re likely to spend hours working overtime to make sure they excel in every single field.

Fraud syndrome is also an equal opportunity employer. From Broadway stars to Silicone Valley boardrooms to the Supreme Court, no one is immune. Stars like Michelle Pfeifer, business tycoon Sherly Sandberg and even Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayer are all afraid that one of these days they will be found out.

I recall some simple advice given to me way back in the day when I started my career. “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Could that have been the start of my journey as a phony? Once you start to buy into the self-doubt, the cycle becomes a slippery slope of inauthenticity creating a drive to be perfect followed by a fear of being exposed. Then one day you wake up and realize nobody’s perfect!

Here are my top five tips on how to stop fraud syndrome in its tracks.


Embrace and accept yourself.

Claim your success and own it. I have a dear friend who built a successful business and sold it for millions of dollars. The selling part didn’t go off a smoothly as it could have, but nonetheless she built the company from nothing and made a major impact on people’s lives along the way. One day I brought this up to her and she just shrugged. I looked at her and said, “You don’t think you are successful business women do you?” She said, “No, I just lucked into it.” You have to be able to accept the success you have and embrace the fact that you deserve some of the opportunities provided to you.


Being perfect is impossible.

Admit you’re not perfect. No one is and there is no shame in admitting it. Sometimes we win in life and sometimes we lose. Being wrong on an issue or losing a job doesn’t make you a phony it makes you human.


Don’t take shortcuts because they only derail your long-term confidence.

One of the roots of my fraud stem from grade school. I have a math phobia. My teacher was a yeller. Every time I asked a question or didn’t understand something he would yell at us. Thus, I stopped asking. As a result I never properly learned my multiplication tables. I would carry a laminated times table grid around in my pocket in case I was picked on to answer a question. If I didn’t have the grid I would be overcome at the thought of being exposed. Instead of using this little short cut, the laminated grid, I should have addressed the issue with tutors and extra help. This issue festered well into my college years.


Be authentic!

I am a little quirky! There I said it. Some people will like me and some people won’t, that’s life! If you walk around being the shell of the person you could be your cheating yourself and the world out of the true you!


Shift from self-focused to others focused.

When you remove the self-focus and begin to serve others, you will find you can’t continue to wallow in impostor syndrome. By serving or helping others, you are moving into action and it becomes virtually impossible to keep up the novella of comparisons, worries about measuring up and fears of unequal social status. Stop comparing yourself to others, your uniquely-made quirks and all.

As it turns out, you’re not an impostor after all. You are a brave risk taker who may fail on occasion but you always get back up and can fake it ‘til you make it one more time, and make you will!


Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.


[1] Wikipedia, the Definition of Imposter Syndrome, 1978. “The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: dynamics and therapeutic intervention.”. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice by Clance, P.R, Imes, S.A.


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February 20th –National Love Your Pet Day

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During the month of February people usually write about love, relationships and matters of the heart. February commemorates a different kind of holiday which still shares the spirit of love. Four legged, furry love that is.


One of my first loves as a child was my Siamese cat Meiling. I shared my entire childhood with Meiling. In fact she lived to be 20 years old, sadly, she passed when I went off to college. We all loved her, she was a little four legged bossy cat who ruled the house. She was so cherished that we commissioned a portrait of her which still hangs on our wall some 30-years later. Meiling was very mouthy. My older brothers were always up to no good and inevitably just as they were trying to sneak out she would start to meow at the top of her lungs. Meiling foiled many escape plans during their teenage years.


Pets were a big part of my life growing up. When I was a kid we always had several dogs and cats scampering about our house. Usually three or four cats and three or more beagles punctuated my childhood with memories of puppies, passing’s and special friendships.


I remember returning from a family vacation to Hawaii and one of our dogs had a litter of puppies. My dad allowed me to name one puppy Bubbles after Don Ho’s song “Tiny Bubbles”. All of his buddies would make fun of him whenever he had to chase down my dog yelling at the top of his lungs, “Bubbles, Bubbles”. After Bubbles, Dad named the dog’s rather boring and macho names such as Prince and Huey to save face.


As the youngest child, I had a special relationship with Meiling. She was a friend when I was a little pesky younger sister and gave me comfort when I was scared or lonely. Cats also can be a great judge of character. Meiling didn’t like one of my girlfriends growing up, later I found out she has stolen several items from me.


As we celebrate, National Love Your Pet Day, think of all the wonderful things your pet does for you on a daily basis. The unconditional love and the cute photo opportunities you can post on Facebook. One of my friends rescued a cat and now he has his own page and following just like Grumpy Cat. If your family doesn’t have a pet, perhaps you might want to consider adopting one at a local shelter. 7.6 million animals are sheltered every year and unfortunately approximately 2.7 million are euthanized. We share our home with two four legged family members. They cheer you up when you have a bad day and are always available to snuggle. Pets are a great source of companionship, they relieve stress and some statistics say they even help you live longer. You have the power to save a life and gain a best friend too.


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

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The Dark Side of Social Media

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The Dark Side of Social Media

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Has social media become ground zero for hatred causing a viciousness epidemic? Recently I witnessed such depravity; I had to take a step back and wonder if there ought to be Geneva Convention Rules for social media.

Eighty one percent of young adults think online bullying is easier to get away with than bullying in person. Forty three percent said they have been bullied before. I wonder where have our young people learned this snarky behavior? Perhaps the source goes back to their parents.

Many of you may have followed the controversial development project in the works in Jupiter. People seemed to have a great deal to say about the project from both sides. If you ask me the online ranting, taunting and, in some cases, defaming people because they had a difference of opinion, went too far. As I followed along to see what both sides had to say, I noticed a spirit of shaming that can only be characterized as a mob-rule mentality. As soon as a post was made the same four or five people would try to shut the post down with personal attacks, antagonistic rants and badgering comments.

I was curious to see what was behind all this hatred and bitterness. I get the fact that people are very passionate about their beliefs and, when pushed, Americans have always been able to mobilize into action. When I went to see what all the fuss was, I found friendly smiling faces some with lovely portraits of children by their side with interests such as church, saving the animals and other assorted noble causes. There were several rapid fire rounds of emotional exchanges sent out across the social media sphere in a mob-like wave. I returned to some of the repeat offenders profile pages and found they had removed most of their personal information.

How brazen the exchanges became from these bullies cloaked in anonymity living out their lives in The Matrix of social media. One person seemed to attack every post within minutes and even went on to attack any person who disagreed with her position. In one exchange, the post writer tried to comment back and was met with this response, “This is America, I can shame and bully if I want to.” Really!

Not only do we seem to have an epidemic of hatred and bitterness on-line but we are clearly having a famine of kindness and love. The whole exchange was just ugly and left me wondering if social media has amplified the bully on the playground to the point where anonymous personal attacks have become the new weapons of mass destruction. I can only hope this is just a small sliver of reality and not what my America has really turned into. Have a Happy New Year and may we all spread a little more kindness!

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .

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The Power of Owning Your Choices

The Power of Owning Your Choices

As we cruise into holiday mode, there will be a plethora of choices to make including which gifts to buy, what parties to attend and which family members to visit. For some, the holidays are a joyous time but for others stress can overwhelm you and ruin the season. There may be underlying family struggles or hurt feelings lingering from your past.  There is good news; you hold the power to move forward within you by owning your choices.

I recently watched a segment about a reunion at Alcatraz. Former prisoners and guards from the notorious prison came back for a visit and to share a meal. Admittedly, it was an odd segment but one of the prisoners said something very cathartic which caught my attention. He was talking about his story and how he ended up in Alcatraz. He robbed a bank and was locked up as a result of his crime. During his time in prison, he came to realize that he had chosen Alcatraz. He explained he had made a choice to rob a bank and the choice led him to being captured and then serving time to pay his debt to society, so in essence his own choice put him in Alcatraz. After his release, he never committed another crime again.  He had an awakening and owned up to his choices. The power of owning up to what he did released him. Conversely, another one of the inmates interviewed was now in his 80’s and had only turned his life around five years ago.  He turned away from his decades of crime and a life of wrecked personal relationships to start again.  

Our choices have short-term and long-term effects in our life. There are methods to head off negative choices which start by weighing your decisions carefully. Here are three simple steps to consider;

  • First, intentionally prepare for a decision and avoid impulse decisions. Think about the benefits, downsides and if the choice fits in with your goals and direction. I use this to stop myself from shopping or eating something I don’t need. Would I rather have one more blouse or money in my 40lK for retirement?
  • Second, evaluate the possible outcomes. For evaluating I use the Suzy Welch method described in her book 10.10.10. Consider the ramifications or benefits of your decision today, tomorrow or down the road. In Suzy’s terms, how will your choice affect you in the next 10 minutes, 10 months or 10 years? When I think of this in terms of the prisoner example, he was probably living in the 10 minute, 10 month zone but not truly considering how his choices would haunt him for years if he were caught.
  • Finally, follow through and own your choices, don’t rationalize. Sometimes moving forward on some of life’s harder decisions can be difficult. Things such as whether to accept a new job, move across country or start a new venture can create monumental changes in life. Personally, I find emotional decisions to be the most draining. Should you keep a friendship after someone has betrayed you? Are your kids on solid ground?

To help with the decision process you can use a few tools to guide you.

  • Collaboration and asking feedback are a good way to get a 360° perspective.
  • Considering your past experiences and personal knowledge then applying wisdom to create a solid barometer.
  • Listening to your intuition or what I call your internal voice, this can provide invaluable guidance in decision making.

Is there a choice or something you need to let go of this holiday season? Maybe you’re facing a dysfunctional family situation or you need to forgive someone.  Look at your choices with discernment, clarity and from the perspective of will this matter today, tomorrow or next month. Then, move on with confidence. Owning your choices and decisions can be very liberating. Happy Holidays!

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com .


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Day Tripping, Yeah!


 Staycations emerged as a trend a while back and flourished even more when the economy took a dip. When I opened a hotel in Sunny Isles Beach FL some years ago, I was amazed at how many people would come from Weston for a long weekend. Recently, my husband and I decided to do a day trip and overnight at the Eau Palm Beach. Until this brief but wonderful experience I hadn’t truly understood the power of the staying close to home.

Although The Eau Palm Beach is just a short drive from our Jupiter home, it felt like a world away. This little gem is nestled on the south end of Palm Beach which is technically called Manalapan and recently ranked first place in the Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards for resorts in Florida, Atlantic and the Keys. Upon arrival we were greeted by the friendly valet, escorted into the lobby and met with a smiling associate offering champagne. In my opinion, The Eau strikes the perfect balance between authentic service versus intrusive service. We have all been out someplace where you can see people are trying just a little too hard. You take a sip of your ice tea and the server is back with a new glass. Causing you to recalibrate your drink with the appropriate balance of sweetener and lemon when the first glass was perfectly mixed.

As we were escorted to our room we received a briefing from a very informed bellmen. We settled in our room and went to check out the hotel. Luckily for us we were on the club level. We were delighted with the accommodating staff. Phillip who managed the lounge, was a perfect stranger upon check in but felt more like family by the time we left. The lounge offers lunch, snacks, light breakfast food, afternoon & evening wine and cocktails. On the way out you can even grab some retro-candy from a glass sphere filled with Lemon Heads and Hot Balls.

As the afternoon was lingering on we hit the pool for a refreshing dip. Just as we scouted out a couple of chairs in the shade, a pool attendant arrived offered towels and drink options. Again, the perfect balance of just in time service without being overwhelming. Heck yeah, we will take some towels and a frozen drink!

After a dip, we took a walk along the beach. In Manalapan, the beach tends to come and go with seasonal erosion. Walking south you barely see anyone along a stretch of private beach dotted with shells and an occasional jelly fish haphazardly washed up on shore. We cut our walk short so as to enjoy the Eau Spa experience.

The Eau Spa is as unique as the hotel and recently won Forbes Five Star spa rating. Once inside this little sanctuary you quickly see why. From the hanging swings in the common area to the wishing fountain the experiences is divinely decadent and pampering. There are cupcakes, rubber ducky mascots, flowing champagne and steam showers. We booked a couples massage and were treated to a stress busting rub complete with personalized aromatherapy scents, music to our liking and comfortable massage beds which inclined slightly upward upon our back flip providing immediate relief for our nasal passages.

Somehow all this activity had tuckered us out. Maybe it was the long drive, the stress of packing and travelling or the hustle and bustle of getting there. Oh wait, another benefit of the staycation: there is no hustle and bustle! We retired for a nap and then headed to dinner.

The Island of Palm Beach has many choices for shopping, eating and drinking. During our stay we dined at the hotel restaurant Angle for dinner. The food was great and one of their evening specials was a stuffed squash blossom. Yummy. The vibe was friendly and fine all rolled into one. We chatted it up a bit with the folks at the table next to us only to learn they were locals too. They come to Angle on a frequent basis and the waiter knew them by name. There goes the reputation of hotel restaurants and the myth of being overly priced with dull food. Angle exceeded my expectation on many levels.

The next morning we were going to stay for brunch but all this delicious food made us want to get moving. We enjoyed a lavish breakfast display in Temple Orange and hit the road refreshed and raving about the whole staycation experience.

I did enjoy a run through some of the most high-end consignment shops in the country. Be sure to try the Church Mouse and Goodwill on the Island. The stores are loaded with designer clothes, some even have the original tags on them and have never been worn. I picked up a pair of Burberry Sandals for twenty dollars. Score!

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or http://www.crossnm.dev.php56-30.ord1-1.websitetestlink.com

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What Keeps You Up At Night?


“What keeps you up at night”, is a question I usually ask when I work with clients to ascertain what part of their business is the most worrisome. The answers can be very insightful and range from IT issues, to security, to how to remain relevant. In my case, the question started with an obvious answer. The clue, it has four legs, a big mouth and breath smelling of tuna. Unfortunately, my brain kicked into overdrive and ignited a series of thoughts leading to a rather fitful night of sleep.   


The biggest culprit for my latest sleepless night was my Furbaby. Furbabies are the newest addition to Urban Dictionary and refer to over spoiled, pampered pets with fur. As I laid awake listening to the scampering and racing about that occurs around 3 AM with my two Burmese Cats, I thought of a million things I needed to follow up on. We all have those kind of nights don’t we? Those creeping thoughts that won’t let you rest as they crawl around in your half-awake brain. Random but just provocative enough to keep you from dropping into the abyss of sleep that lies just on the other side of those crazy ideas darting to and fro in your mind. On this particular night, Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam had wedged an idea in my head. Don’t ask!


So I began, 99, 98, 97, all the way down with a singular focus of mindlessness and nothingness to zero. Maybe this time sleep will come. My eyes and appendices feel heavy signaling their need for rest. Then a yowl and a thump from the other side of the door. I begin again, 99, 98, and 97. As the alarm blares signaling 7:30 all is quiet, I stretch and yawn then lumber out of bed to hit the snooze. The lists start again, to-do, to-call and to-follow up, all registering in my mind. I head to the kitchen for a boost from my best friend, coffee, the ever ready companion, ally of the sleepless night steams through the fog in my head as the hot molten liquid washes down my gullet and soon all is well again.


For those of you with pets, I think you will agree the companionship outweighs the antics most of time.  I look to the corner of my bed and see two cats huddled and curled up in a conjoined circular ball, sound asleep and gently snoring. I resist the urge to pinch them and brew another cup of coffee while I get ready for what lies ahead.


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

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Marketing Your Business Should Not Be Considered Optional

Every day I see local businesses come and go within a matter of months. In the shopping center near our house there have been at least a dozen or more restaurants. They buy equipment, expensive ovens, furniture and complete interior design work totaling thousands of dollars in capital and operational costs in preparation for opening.

The big day comes, they open, put up a banner and some signage and within a matter of months they are out of business. Could it be a bad location? Are the rents too high? Were there just not enough traffic generators? Was it the wrong concept? In one case, I can confirm that the concept was flawed. It was a seafood restaurant that specialized in cold water fish from the Great Lakes.  I have to admit I scratched my head about that one. Some looked like they had a good shot at success; there was an Italian place, a pizza joint, an Asian restaurant and a steak house.

What is the common denominator that prevented these businesses from surviving and thriving? No-one can be certain but if I had to take a guess, I would say they were undercapitalized and did not have a marketing budget or plan in place for long-term success. I actually approached a couple of these businesses to see if I might lend my marketing expertise. Unfortunately, I was too late as they indicated they didn’t need help or had no money for such frivolous efforts.

Here is a new flash, having a marketing strategy and budget is equally as important as investing in the right equipment to make or serve your product. For a business to succeed, marketing is not an optional or frivolous expense. Contrary to belief, if you build it, they don’t always come!

Here are a few start-up tips for new businesses. There are three important phases that lay a foundation for success:

  • Pre opening lasting 3-4 weeks prior to opening
  • Grand-opening lasting 1-2 week period
  • Post-opening lasting 4 weeks

During the pre-opening phase, start to line up all your property level marketing tools, have your web site and social media pages set up. Write your press releases and outline a PR strategy. Prepare your media list by identifying; business editors, local editors, food editors and human interest columnists.

Identify 25 key prospects within a 10 mile radius, map out the locations and contact specifics.

During the grand opening phase, have your display signage and advertising in place, host a neighborhood open-house, use social media to invite key followers, organize a civic breakfast or lunch event for your Chamber or Rotary, align yourself with guest ambassadors to expand your reach and take some goodies to local radio stations and businesses.

The post opening period is the time to have a cohesive marketing plan in writing and ready to execute. Normally businesses experience a honeymoon period during the first few weeks of opening. After the initial jump in sales most business experience a “drop off” which can be disastrous especially if it coincides with off season in Florida.  

A six month marketing plan can virtually eliminate a “drop off” and set your business up with a solid foundation for success. The broad objectives should be centered on

  • In-house zone marketing
  • Driving new trial and frequency
  • Building a solid database and following
  • Establishing customer loyalty

Operating a small business in today’s economy is challenging. With start-up costs associated with opening a business some owners are tapped out. As a business owner, you should consider marketing a cost of doing business and a path to guarantee your long-term success.  If you factor 2-3% of gross revenue toward a marketing budget you will be on your way to success. The question is, can you really afford not to market your business?

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com

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In Honor of Women Everywhere – Happy Mother

As we cruise into May, we celebrate Mother’s Day.  We refer to my mom, now 83, as the bionic women. In the last decade, she has had both her knees and hips replaced.  Throughout it all,  including a  misdiagnosis and severe pain she carried on, did the laundry, cleaned the house and kept on moving.

 

I often feel women have been underestimated throughout history. We all know about such trailblazers as;  Amelia Earhart, Margaret Thatcher and Mother Theresa but what about the millions of silent mothers and wives who work tirelessly behind the scenes for their families. This year, two of my dear friends were diagnosed with cancer. These women are warriors, bravely fighting every day. As I speak with their husbands and children I feel their pain as they try to give comfort to those who have comforted them over the years. You suddenly realize how hard it is to be the rock to the one’s who have always been your rock. It’s like Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ” A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”

 

My mother not only made our house a home, she instilled values and was an advocate for our education when my father didn’t feel it was necessary. I recently watched a touching interview about Raymond Floyd’s career during the Masters Championship. A great deal of the focus was about his late wife, Maria Floyd and her impact on his life.  He spoke about how strong she was and how she would challenge him when his game needed improvement. On one such occasion he recalled a heated fight with his wife while they were driving to a tournament that resulted in the car being pulled over. A good women should push and challenge her husband to face things he may not want to face. I recall many fights in my own house when my Mom would come up against my Father’s ego and you never knew who would win. She would always advise us to, “Pick our battles wisely.”

 

There has been a lot of talk lately about putting a woman on our currency. The three final candidates to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill are, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt Harriet Tubman and Wilma Mankiller.  I can’t help but wonder, what has taken so long? It’s about time women get some recognition for their contributions, maybe we should be on the $100 note instead.

 

Women are the unsung heroes, they teach us how to nurture and take care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mother’s teach us how to give comfort, to be accepting when all hope is lost and to love ourselves when no one else possibly could. As we get older, we never outgrow the need for someone to hug us, tell us how special we are and let us know tomorrow is a new day.

 

As we celebrate Mom’s Day, spend some quality time with your Mother or other strong women in your life. Like many of you my Mom doesn’t need any more trinkets, but she did ask if I could come home and spend some time with her. How many more Mother’s Days will I get to enjoy that treasure?  

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or on Facebook or Twitter at jcrosstalk. 

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No More Grousing

 

I stumbled across a new movement taking hold on the Internet. Check out this link to learn more about the specifics: Complaint Restraint Project. The initiative was established by Thierry Blancpain and Pieter Pelgrims,  to create a more positive life by eliminating negative statements for 30-days.

“There’s no secret sauce,” the website says. “Simply stop complaining.”

Unfortunately misery just loves company doesn’t it?

I thought I would give it a whirl, so I enlisted some of my inner circle for a team style project. My sister said it sounded interesting but she couldn’t commit to starting until after the 19th of month. Huh? Can it really be that difficult to stop grousing?



Fast Company picked up the battalion and even wrote a post that lists ways to make not complaining a realistic goal: 

Start by defining what a complaint is:

Turns out there is a difference between an observation and a complaint. Maybe I just tend to be very observant in my daily life. Especially when I notice coffee dribbled on the floor or laundry piled up. Perhaps people in my house just aren’t as observant as I am. Is that possible? Or did I just slip back into complaining? Seriously, a complaint brings about a negative undertone and makes the energy drain out of you.

Track how often you complain and what about:

This opens the mindfulness cavern and really gets your brain tuned into how habitually you fall into a pattern of complaining. One morning while watching the news I had 5 slips in a matter of minutes. Yikes, turn the television off, light candle and tune into some spa music.

Don’t engage:

Skip grousing fests and avoid friends who tend to over-grouse.  If you have to attend a meeting or event, try to stay on the fringe or add something positive. Just last week, I opened my mouth to say something and a certain person pounced on me like Tigger in Pooh. The rant of expletives, and “that is the stupidest thing I ever heard,” followed. Ouch!

Use the “but-positive” technique:

We all know this little trick helps you turn a negative into a positive. Another way to phrase things is by turning a “but” into a “get.”  Try turning, I have to pick up the dry cleaning, into, I get to pick up the dry cleaning, which happens to be right across the street from my favorite store. I have to go up north in the middle of a storm… but I get to spend time with my parents.


Just remember, ridding yourself of negativity takes work. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Slips happen, just keep trying to find the rainbow in the midst of the storm. I am working on taking the challenge one day at a time. Won’t you join me?

 

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com

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