Sunday, December 6, 2009

The True Measure of Wealth

I was raised staunch Catholic. I remember the parable of the talents being drummed into me at a very early age with the saying "To whom much is given, much is expected."

I always did much with my inherent talents and time. Guided by this "guilt" I never let opportunities pass me by to learn and grow and never let time pass by. As I risked much I gained and lost too. With regard to physical wealth, my endeavors paid off and I had reached quite a high standard of living.

The latest economic "swine flu" has me rethinking what I consider my true wealth. Also guided by my Catholic upbringing, I realized the commandments are summed up "Love God, Love others." The greatest gift is love.

As I try to become unencumbered by physical wealth, I am making a list of my lasting wealth. After my sister's recent visit, I realized that the love between sisters is something that cannot be bought or traded. The similarities and differences we share are a bond that will sustain us both through good times and bad. My husband and children are an investment of more than 20 years. Like any stock, the value of my investment has gone up and down and it has had its share of "volatility." But, as any good investment manager will tell you, "Investing is a marathon, not a sprint, so never focus on each lap."

Lately, by some grace of God, I have been blessed by re-connecting with some of my close friends from school and my first job and also extended family. These precious people now scattered around the world, have all been witnesses to my innocence of youth and my open-minded outlook at all life has to offer.

Lest I get jaded by what the current economic state is, divine providence is showing me what the true measure of wealth is. And, yes, I will not ignore the teachings that I need to do something with these "talents" or "gifts" of relationships. I will not bury them in the ground like the Biblical servant who was afraid of his master and incurred his wrath for not taking risks. I will cultivate them and multiply them even if it means risking rejection or hurt. The love I will gain will be the greatest of my wealth, because that is the most enduring wealth of all.

The Red Stilettos

Forrest Gump said, "You can tell a lot about a person from their shoes. Where they've been ..."

I define myself by my red stilettos. They are stylish without being over the top. I follow trends as they apply to me, I am not a slave to fashion. This applies also to my work as a marketer - I apply trends that work for my company's situation without desperately trying to fit trends to our style.

The heel is high while yet being comfortable to walk on - demonstrating that I am sensible with my aspirations. Setting goals that can be achieved without leaving me disappointed. After I have walked a mile in them, I can walk two miles and so on.

The toe is a round point - denoting that I am more accommodating of others than always trying to push my way. People eventually come around to my way of thinking.

My shoe is a mix of patent and suede - showing that as a marketer I mix healthy parts of creativity and analytics for the best results. My creativity is always tempered by analysis and I am creative when evaluating results of marketing efforts.

Red - the color of passion and confidence. I am driven in everything I dedicate my time to and my enthusiasm is infectious. I am confident in my abilities to succeed at whatever I put my mind to accomplish. Yet, I am not cocky or arrogant because the shoe I picked is a pump and not a sandal. My dad taught me that anything worth doing is worth doing well. I try to honor his departed memory with that dedication of purpose.

Versatility - the red stiletto I picked will work with any outfit - jeans, dress, shorts or skirt. This means I am versatile enough to fit in any environment whether it is a large corporate, start-up or small to mid-size enterprise.

My stiletto has a little red bow - indicating I have an eye for detail. My projects get wrapped up with the red bow for completion.

A red stiletto needs a good leg to carry it off. I must admit, I am blessed with the right legs!

My shoes have carried me far. I've learned from every experience in my career. I've taken good care of my red stilettos - polished and cleaned them. My red stilettos still look good enough to carry me for many years as long as my legs can walk in them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Loss Can Be A Gain

I have heard many people complain about losses they have taken due to the economy. I must admit, I have lost too.

But in the grand scheme of things, I try to see the positive in each loss. For every relationship I have lost, I have gained immense lessons and memories to see me through. I lost my dog Pepper, but I feel I have gained another guardian angel because Pepper loved and protected my family and me during her loyal 14 years. Now she can protect us even more.

Materially, we have lost a lot of disposable income, which is forcing us to look at what is really important and what is just an encumbrance as we learn to live and travel lighter. For every deal I have lost, I have gained a new way of looking at something or presenting the value to the audience. For every argument I have lost, I have gained a new perspective.

Every time I was at a loss for words, I gained a sharper sense of hearing. It's back to the old phrase of half empty vs half full. Looking back, I can say I have lost many things, many times, but what I have gained through it all is priceless and I wouldn't trade any of it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Life lessons from the Rolling Stones

In 1965, the Rolling Stones took America by storm with lyrics by Mick Jagger and an unforgettable riff by guitarist Keith Richards. Their song "Satisfaction" became an anthem to millions.

Many generations grew up influenced by the music of the Rolling Stones. Here we are 40 years after they first emerged, still fascinated with the group that brought a certain decadence and a certain elegance to rock and roll. As someone described them, they are a "sort of a combo platter of the two that people can't get enough of."

With a combination of blues and rock, coupled with Mick's legendary swagger and defiant attitude, the Stones sent a message to America's youth during the '60s and '70s.

Some think the Stones were a social force, not just a musical force and they were selling a form of rebellion, a form of reckless abandon, a form of freedom. Yet, if you examine the lyrics closely, you will see that there are life lessons to be learned and habits you can adopt from the pearls of wisdom from Mick and Keith.

Laugh all you want, but early on in their career, the Stones figured out that "hours are like diamonds, don't let them waste." The prodigiously productive career of 40+ years is ample proof.

"Satisfaction" - is an ode to setting realistic goals.
"Sitting on a fence" - a warning against procrastination
"Wild horses couldn't drag me away" - a primer on laser focus on something.
"Beast of Burden" - delegate to be effective or discard the things that are bringing you down
"Yesterday's Papers" - regrets are for losers. Don't dwell on past mistakes, learn from them and move on.
"You can't always get what you want" - you always get what you need.

For the cynics out there who are thinking "it's only rock and roll" - I respond, "Time is on my side" and yours too ... just manage it wisely! After all, Mick ain't nobody's fool - he studied economics.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pepper - The Spice of my life

I grew up with pets - all sorts of them. Unfortunately, for the first several years of my marriage, we never had one. Michael always had reasons and I never really pushed it. My kids kept asking for a pet and the closest we came to having one was a goldfish that lasted two days.

In 1995, our lives took a dramatic turn. The California housing market was really bad - we put our home on the market and after several months, sold it at a loss. My brother visited us and convinced us that the real estate market was booming in Sri Lanka, so after a few months of consideration and encouragement from several old friends who were in the housing and development market, we decided to go to Sri Lanka for two years.

We shipped all our belongings and arrived on an auspicious August night. The next day, we had the largest family reunion since my mother passed away in 1983 and it hasn't been eclipsed since. It just so happened that siblings, half-siblings, and neices and nephews who lived in different parts of the world happened to be visiting Sri Lanka for various reasons and we all got together for the most memorable lunch.

A week later, we had rented a large house with a large yard and the inevitable request for a pet dog. We wanted a male tan German Shepherd - seemed the best choice for our family. Territorial, yet loyal and loving to its own family. We visited several breeders but didn't find the dog we were looking for. There was one more place to visit - they had advertised black German Shepherds. Not our ideal choice, but since we were half-way there, why not go there so we could tell our kids that a dog was probably not in the stars for us yet.

We arrived at the kennel and were greeted by a raucous barking brood. Many of the dogs had already been booked except for three - all females. Apparently, the male dogs are snatched up right away because dogs aren't usually spayed or neutered in Sri Lanka, so owners don't want to have to bother with the possibility of dealing with females getting pregnant. This was my fear too and I was not really interested in checking out the remaining dogs. God had plans beyond my comprehension. The runt of the litter, a feisty little thing started barking and wagging its tail and following my seven year old daughter. About an hour later, we were driving home with this brand new puppy, whom my daughter aptly named Pepper.

The first night we placed her inside a large box filled with a blanket and a rubber ducky in the master bathroom - she couldn't settle in and kept barking until we brought her into our bedroom. For the first few weeks, I woke up at five to take her outside to potty train her and had to put up with a few "accidents." Soon, she was my alarm clock as she woke me to go out to do her "business."

Pepper's first few months were riddled with health issues, yet her will to live made her a survivor. Almost a year later, she was on a Singapore Airlines flight headed to her new home with us in California. She loved to travel, so we did many roadtrips with her to San Francisco and Arizona and finally to our home in Nevada.

Fourteen years ago when we took her into our home, I couldn't have predicted that Pepper would completely spice up our lives and leave an indelible pawprint in our hearts that could never be forgotten.

She brought a defiance without being totally disobedient, she brought protection without being overbearing, she brought tenderness without being overly sentimental. It's a common opinion that dogs take on the personalities of their owners. In many ways, Pepper reflected me.

Now, as I hold on to the memories of her, I will know what it is like to hold something that I didn't give birth to, yet love like my own child.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Hairy Tale

Yeah, yeah, I know what they say. One's hair is one's crowning glory. Thank God, I have great hair - it is effortless to style. I am a wash and go kind of gal. The flip side of that is my hair grows so fast. So, I have to cut it often and color it often because every two weeks, there's almost 1/2" of roots showing.

Which brings me to my next point. It is a hairy time out there on the job front. What it takes to survive in this market is tenacity. Being a seasoned marketer, I am a veteran of ups and downs in the economy and in the job market because marketing seems to bear the brunt of all the hard times. Being thrown in the deep end many times, I have learned to swim. I have gained skills in all aspects of marketing - creative, analytics, project management, vendor negotiation, budget management, lead generation, social media ... you get the picture.

As I am in the unfortunate position of looking for work myself, I remain hopeful that it is my ability to succeed in tenuous times that will be one of my strongest assets in landing the right job. I don't freak out at the slightest wave ... in my youth, I have been in 20' high waves in Sri Lanka. So, figurative waves don't scare me either. My well-honed sense of humor helps me weather the worst Tsunami.

This too shall pass. I know it. Been there, done that.

P.S. I did get a haircut in anticipation of interviews.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A "Love Child"

In the summer of 2006, there was a magical meeting of a persnickety custom home builder, an accomplished marketer and a renowned residential designer. They had each reached career highs and were brought together to create a masterpiece.

Two years later, the birth of a unique custom home in Henderson, NV is the culmination of that perfect union. This home, built in the style of a Palazzo is fit for an emperor or empress. The eye for detail and quality is not lost on anyone who walks through the huge archways into large, yet comfortable living spaces enveloped on all sides with the finest granite countertops, cherry and maple cabinetry and luxurious fixtures and appliances. Corinthian pillars stand guard inside and outside - inviting guests to indulge their senses. (click here for virtual tour

Whatever your interests are, you will find it catered to in this gorgeous home. The well-equipped kitchen with the latest quality appliances will bring out your inner chef. The focal point of the main living areas is the warm tuscan style kitchen overlooking the breakfast area and the extra spacious living room and wet bar. You can also have an eye on the backyard kitchen and pool and spa. This home has character, style and a sense of harmony with positive energy flow.

The office/library has a private entrance and the foyer leads to the grand dining room on one side and the living room on the other. The solid granite staircase is wrapped by a wrought-iron railing with bronze patina accents. The pool room, media room and 4 bedroom suites will not disappoint you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Selling Luxury Homes in a "Google" era

The advent of web 2.0 has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. I have become such a social media addict that I feel out of it if I don't check blogs, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter and a bunch of other social media sites.

Which brings me to my point ... even luxury homes are now being sought and bought through online research. Luxury home sellers have to adapt marketing savvy to make sure their listing gets noticed amidst the "noise."

I am grateful to my training and experience in marketing as I collaborate with my agent, Harriet Christensen, Keller Williams Marketplace, Henderson, NV to sell my home. I wrote the script for the video that is on YouTube and am working on other online activities to promote a quick sale. (click here for video

After all, marketing is about knowing your audience, understanding their needs and tailoring your message to elicit a desired response. I remain confident that the right buyer is out there and will appreciate the beauty and detail that has gone into this unique masterpiece.

Bailouts and Fallouts

Everyone I meet tells me we are in a recession. As if the 24/7 media has not pounded it into me. And, for the record, I believe the media has actually played a major role in deepening it. I haven't felt much like writing lately because I have had a hard time trying to write something what would have a positive tinge to it.

I recently ran into an old friend and we chatted incessantly about the economic turmoil and what it has done to corporate America. Our conversation inspired me and I couldn't hold back any more. "Megan" told me that she quit her job because she could not stand the backstabbing and power plays that were going on in her office. She told me that her boss had become so power hungry that he was rewarding those who were feeding his ego and because she did not do it, she was constantly being harassed. She finally decided she had had enough and that her soul was not for sale and she quit without a safety net.

I admired her for standing up for her principles. I could relate. I pondered over this for a while and I realized that to live life involves taking risks. Faith is not faith until it is tested. I am soon going to be a "pen for hire."

Keeping up to date with the bailout plan, I see the fallout of the lack of corporate governance and fiscal irresponsibility of some marquis names. I have mixed feelings about government intervention. I want the plan to help resuscitate job creation and the entrepreneurial spirit of America. What I don't want is to see "stuffing" it with appeasement dollars for the fat cats.

Despite it all, I am still hopeful that good times are ahead. I know my faith will be rewarded and that I will be able to use my "penmanship" to make me a living.