What Does Trust Mean Today?

There’s a saying that “people do business with people that they like” and while I believe strongly in that sentiment I also believe that first and foremost people must do business with people that they trust. In today’s business world where skepticism runs high and there are scams and hustles galore, it is imperative that business people take the necessary steps to build respect and trust with their clients and co-workers alike.
It can take time and some people may be a bit more “suspicious” than others but there are many rewards when you make the investment in developing relationships built on a foundation of trust:
Here are three ways you can build trust:
Don’t Over-Promise
It’s a natural instinct to want to satisfy your co-workers, bosses and clients however if you agree to do something within a specific budget or period of time and you don’t deliver on your promise you will be certain to not only disappoint people but potentially undermine your ability to have these individuals trust you in the future. A far better approach is to under promise and over deliver in which case you will win their admiration and appreciation for the job that you have done. The drive to do things better, faster, and less expensively is hardwired in many people and should be curtailed unless you have a strong degree of confidence that you can deliver on your promises.
Admit to Mistakes
The most damaging thing you can do if and when you make a mistake is attempting to mislead and hide the situation from the people that might be impacted as a result of the error. Taking steps to rectify the situation while at the same time alerting a client, boss or co-worker to a potential problem is the best plan of attack and can help you to retain the trust you have built up over time.
Tell the Truth
Nothing undermines respect and trust faster than being caught in a lie and your best bet is to completely avoid lying in the first place. If you do find yourself caught in a lie the best strategy is to make an immediate and sincere apology and to take immediate action to rebuild the trust that has probably been lost. Most people are forgiving and will give you another chance however it is the magnitude of the lie that will determine the repercussions.
Trust helps to foster business growth and employee motivation and satisfaction and should be the goal of every organization. How is trust instilled and perpetuated in your company?
Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Why Having Typos in Your Emails Can Undermine Your Brand

With the smaller iPhone and tablet keyboards and the staggering volume of emails being composed and typed under circumstances not really amenable to concentration and attentiveness, it’s no wonder the incidence of typos is on the rise. But excuses aside, typos in your email are unprofessional, can damage your brand and ultimately cut into your profits.
Here are some steps you can take to minimize the number of typos in your email communication:
Read everything twice.
Given the volume of email that we send out each day and how quickly we compose and type them it makes good sense to read everything twice before hitting “send.” The first “read” is for tone, manner and clarity of thought. The second “read” is for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Remember that spellcheck isn’t foolproof and if you are unsure how a word is spelled or used in a sentence, it is always best to consult Google.
Take your time.
The “rules” of good time management tell us that we can actually waste time if we do things too quickly, make mistakes and then have to redo our work. Don’t send an email without taking an adequate amount of time to organize your thoughts, compose your email and proofread it carefully.
Have someone else read your email.
Sometimes we are just “too close” to the email in order to catch typos and pick up on any miscommunication. Consider asking someone else to read your important emails to make certain they are free of typos and are written in a professional manner.
Read your emails aloud.
By reading your emails aloud you force yourself to look at each word individually and by doing this you can more easily notice typos as well as errors in grammar and punctuation. The more lengthy the email the more you need to concentrate on every word and sentence and not skip ahead to the next line in order to save time.
While there are some emails that you can send quickly without expending too much time and effort, the vast majority of work related emails must be accurate and therefore require your full attention not only when you are creating the email but even when you are reviewing it.
Typos can be embarrassing and even humiliating and ultimately cost you business. Surely it’s worth a few extra minutes to avoid a potentially mortifying experience.
In case you forgot:
Romney iPhone app misspells ‘America’ to Web’s delight

Direct Mail is Your Friend (and Mine!)

24-7-Website-Direct-MarketingHaving spent 25 years in the printing business I have done my fair share of defending direct mail.
For years I listened to complaints about the onslaught of direct mail filling up everyone’s mailboxes. Some folks told me that they had their own strategy on how to rid themselves of the mail, bragging about sorting their mail while standing next to a trash bin, or immediately discarding anything postmarked Bulk Mail. Rarely did I hear that direct mail was welcomed. Clearly it was frustrating and became even more so when email became the de facto communication tool.
Nowadays and after many failed campaigns, most marketing professionals understand that emails should not be used for every type of sales and marketing endeavor. Direct mail is back—although it was always tops on my list!
Here are the top 3 reasons why direct mail is far from dead:
Direct mail is more personal.
There is no doubt direct mail is far more personal than email. Think about how email and direct mail arrive at our desks. Emails are constant and come in throughout the day and night. Most people keep their inbox open along with many other documents, spreadsheets, and websites, and they read or respond to email while busy doing many other things. Direct mail provides just the opposite experience. USPS mail is delivered once a day and is hardly considered to be intrusive. There is no alert or vibration to announce a new direct mailer, so people are free to react at their convenience. My own strategy is to pour a cup of coffee and take a few minutes to look through the mail. These days the “pile” isn’t so large and I make it a point to look at everything. Opening the mail is akin to taking a short break from the computer, and you won’t find anyone complaining about that!
Direct mail doesn’t come with cyber attacks.
These days there are some very sophisticated email phishing scams. These fraudulent emails appear as if they are coming from legitimate sources (e.g., your bank, PayPal, a retail store, etc.), yet they are often from unsecure sources. Many people get duped and reveal information that should be kept confidential. I know you’re probably saying, “I would never be so gullible,” but the truth is most of us don’t know what is real and what isn’t. With all of the bad press going on about this cyber fraud and phishing emails incidents, is it any wonder that people are more confident and comfortable with old-fashioned direct mail? 
Direct mail allows for creativity, texture, and dimension
There’s nothing quite like a beautiful, thoughtfully created, well-designed piece of direct mail. It’s like a work of art, with wonderful images, colors, and texture, and a message. I know that digital marketers can get creative with email, however in my opinion there is no way that you can compare the two. Direct mail has staying power, and an especially creative piece may find its way to a bulletin board or stay perched on a desk for all to see. It can be tactile, lush, and almost sensual, or it can be crisp, sleek, and controlled. The key is the recognition the mailing will generate.
Of course I’m not saying to dispense with email – there’s a time and place for that, too! – but don’t for a moment think that direct mail is phasing out. Just the opposite: it’s being reborn.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white. 

Beware the Candy Season Is Upon Us

IMG_5103 (Edited)
I know lots of people succumb to the seduction of sugar and unhealthy snacking especially while at work. It doesn’t have to be that way and here are some of the things that I do to help me avoid reaching for the candy corn!
Substitute healthy for the unhealthy
The candy and unhealthy treats are never as appealing as when you are hungry. It’s not so easy to “just say no” when your stomach is growling and lunch or dinner are several hours away. The best strategy is to keep healthy food at your desk so that when you have the urge to snack it’ll be on something that is good for you rather than on candy or food with no nutritional value.
Get healthy with a friend
You know how much easier it is to exercise with a friend; how you keep each other going when you just want to stop. The same is true for eating and snacking in the office. Engage your co-workers and perhaps even take turns bringing in an assortment of healthy food and snacks to share. You’ll find it easier to stay away from candy if you have some moral support.
Being healthy doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the holidays
Last year I peeled tangerines and used green licorice pieces to make a stem (see picture) to the office for Halloween. It was a big hit and I discovered that our employees were enthusiastic and happy to share the healthy treat. Get creative and I bet that you’ll be able to come up with some healthy alternatives to candy corn, Peeps and all of the other sugary holiday candies.
Chewing gum and water can help stave off hunger
I’ve found that chewing gum while working at my desk provides me with a sweet taste sensation. Drinking water also helps to control hunger with the added advantage of helping you to stay hydrated. I do both and yes, they work!
I admit, it’s easier said than done but the results are worth it. And by the way, Happy Halloween!
Take a look at this article it also has some helpful hints
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white. 

Are You Talking Politics in the Office?

unnamed edited
Regardless of political affiliation, it is clear that the drama unfolding in our nation’s capital is a major distraction. Minute-to-minute news flashes take up a great deal of real estate on our social media feeds, not to mention the national news sources contributing “breaking news” at all hours of the day. Every media alert and the time spent digesting them can cause a disturbance to the rhythm of our workdays.
It’s a wonder we can get any work done at all with all of the political distractions in our world. But work we must, so here are a few recommendations for how to stay focused on the work at hand and keep politics from hampering your productivity:
Keep political conversations out of the office
The office is the wrong arena in which to discuss polarizing political issues. When passions and opinions run deep, you can easily find yourself in total disagreement with coworkers and involved in a discussion that has quickly gotten out of hand. Teamwork and esprit de corps are essential for companies to operate smoothly, and there is no better way to undermine both than by debating the current political climate. As far as politics in the office goes, the old saying, “Keep your opinions to yourself,” resonates loud and clear.
Track how much time you spend checking social media and reading political news
We all know that social media can undermine productivity, especially when you fall down the Internet rabbit hole of social media feeds and trending news stories. You may find yourself watching short clips at first, which can spiral into binging full news segments, and ultimately and even live television. The best self-enforced policy is to stop checking your feeds altogether and devote working hours to work. If you must devour the latest breaking news, be sure to set an alarm for time spent on it so that you limit the distraction and return attention to the tasks at hand.
Don’t wear clothes or buttons with political slogans
Wearing buttons or clothing (hats count!) emblazoned with political slogans or messages is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It’s important to have opinions and to voice them at the right moments, however a political message on your shirt is, consciously and unconsciously, making a public statement. It’s best to leave that sort of attire for the weekend and when you are not at work.
Be polite and respectful when someone disagrees with you
Let’s face it: we don’t always agree with our coworkers, family, and friends. Sometimes it is difficult to acknowledge another person’s opinion when there is such disagreement. If you find yourself in the midst of conversation about politics, be aware of your manners and decorum. Do not turn confrontational or disrespectful. This is America and everyone is entitled to his or her political leanings even if you find them repugnant. Be polite and disengage immediately.
There’s never been much room for distractions in the workplace. Today and tomorrow are no different. Turn off the background noise, tune into your work, and you’ll find yourself more productive and, dare I say, happier too.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white. 

Dad’s advice 30 year later

That picture is part of my history. My father’s influence has been profound and his values are now my values. I’m certain that he would have been proud of the woman that I am today.
Sadly, my dad passed away before he had the opportunity to see how much he impacted my life both personally and professionally. Certainly he’d be proud of his granddaughter who has become a teacher, just like my mother.  He would enjoy his time playing golf with Larry (my husband and business partner) and of course, following up the game with a martini at the bar.  But what about me?
Eddie was a tough father with strong opinions and he often couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see the other side of the coin.  His inflexibility could cause problems but in business he was at the top of his game. He worked hard all day and then came home and worked some more.  He was driven, smart and intuitive and always looking for the next “best” thing.  His expectations for me were very straightforward, “go into your own business” and “don’t work for anyone else”. At the time I didn’t agree.
After college I joined the executive training program at Macy’s and worked my way up to being a buyer. Eventually I jumped to the other side of the table and went into sales and merchandising and worked for a few companies in the garment center. I never even considered owning my own business.
And that leads me to today. My husband and I are co-owners of Symmetry. It’s our goal to provide all of our clients with exemplary work and provide 100% customer satisfaction.  We are passionate about building long-standing business relationships and to help our clients be successful. As the business owner, I have control over pretty much everything and my client’s priorities are my priorities too.
So now I finally get it and Dad was right! Owning my own business has been the best thing I could have ever done. It’s been a great ride and one that I don’t see stopping anytime soon.
I regret that my Dad didn’t live to see who I am today. I think he would have been very proud and especially so because I embody so many of the values that he held near and dear to his heart.
He might not be here today but somehow I think he knows!
Who influenced your career?  Let’s talk about it.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white.

Business Manners Matter

Have you ever submitted a written proposal upon the request of a prospective client only to have that person go silent and not respond to your follow-up attempts?
Have you ever discovered that a client has decided to work with a competitor without mentioning it to you?
What about unreturned emails or voice messages? Do you sometimes feel like you are being ignored by your networking contacts and business associates?
Unfortunately these situations and  antisocial behavior has in some ways become “standard operating procedure” in businesses today. Unreturned phone calls and emails, radio silence from potential or existing clients, and all manner of sleights are dished out each day such that we have forgotten this is bad business etiquette.
Being on the receiving end of bad business etiquette doesn’t mean that we haven’t been guilty of it ourselves. Admittedly, I’ve used time-sensitive deadlines and a busy work schedule as an excuse to be unresponsive at times. But there is really no good excuse, because business manners matter!
Consider these suggestions for how to rectify bad business etiquette:
When you have complex or sensitive matters to discuss, and there is an important message to convey, pick up the phone and have a conversation. Don’t rely on email to communicate your message. Most of us don’t have the business writing skills to execute these types of messages without causing unnecessary confusion. No one prefers an extensive email chain either.
Text messages are efficient for short, one-off communiqués, such as letting a person know you will be late to a meeting. However, use text messaging judiciously, as they may be seen as abrupt and thoughtless.
Be responsive. Return your missed calls and emails in a timely manner. Do not let them linger for more than 48 hours. If you know that you will be under major time constraints, or if you are unable to provide a sufficient response without more thought, create a voice mail message or email autoreply that will alert people to the likelihood of a delay in your response.
Be mindful that someone put in time and effort to create that proposal for you. You may have awarded the job to someone else, or may have decided against the project entirely, but it is still your responsibility to acknowledge the work submitted. Keeping someone in the dark by ignoring phone calls and emails is unprofessional.
It takes just a little added time and energy to be responsive and display common business courtesies. Treat others as you would like to be treated and you may find that your good behavior is returned in kind.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Are You in a Rut?

unnamed (10)
Sometimes you find yourself in a rut. (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/in-a-rut) Professionally and personally, you just seem to be—in a rut.
Being in a rut can cause uncomfortable feelings—of lethargy and depression, exhaustion and anxiety. However you cannot let your motivation or inertia stop you from getting out of the rut.
Here are my suggestions on how to get OUT of a rut:
Take small steps
Sometimes even just the thought of being in and getting out of a rut can be overwhelming, because often the solution needed is a big change. Change is difficult, big changes even more so. How do you approach the challenge without feeling up against the world? Start small. Chip away at problems piece by piece. Break down the big issues into component parts and learn to claim the “little victories.” Small gains lead to bigger gains.
Talk to a trusted friend or advisor
Speaking to another person—a close confidant, an advisor, a friend—about your rut will provide you with an outsider’s perspective on your situation. Often they will be able to offer you a trusted opinion and sage advice. The “outsider” may have gone through the same thing, so heed their recommendations for how to overcome your rut.
Break the routine
Routines can be good for establishing a rhythm in your life. Still, falling into a routine may sap your creativity and desire to do things in a different way. When you begin to feel as if you are no longer engaged, you must make a conscious effort to break the routine of “how it’s always been done.” Remember that change is difficult, so be prepared with several options and backup plans in case your initial routine-breaking plan doesn’t work. 
Eat nutritious food, get adequate sleep, and exercise regularly
Being in a rut, and the emotional strain and tension that result, can undermine your health in a serious way. Maintaining healthy habits such as eating well, getting enough sleep, and finding time to exercise, can help you avert any health issues as you deal with the challenges of getting out of the rut.  Alternately, lack of maintaining your health may  complicate the situation.
Above all, do what you can and at your own pace. It’s not a race. Take baby steps, stay focused, and remain aware of your endgame. When you eventually overcome your rut, recognize your success and reward yourself for a job well done!
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Negative Feedback….Oh No!

unnamed (9)
Providing feedback is an integral part of business and human resource management. It is a crucial component of assessing quality of work, numbers, effort, attitude, and everything else that goes in to an employee’s review. Giving negative feedback, unfortunately, can be an uncomfortable experience, and it requires tact, excellent communication, sensitivity, and compassion. When done correctly, most professionals will take constructive criticism well and understand that it is being given with their best interests in mind. They will even be motivated to do better in the future.
When done incorrectly, well, the results can be disastrous.
Here are suggestions on how to give negative feedback and obtain the best possible outcome:
Don’t be ambiguous.
When providing negative feedback you must be extremely straightforward and clear without any possibility for confusion or misunderstanding. State the facts and don’t sugarcoat the situation or allow an individual to downplay an issue of consequence. You will be doing the employee and yourself a disservice if you attempt to make light of the situation.
Don’t be sarcastic or condescending.
The objective of giving negative feedback is to ultimately correct and change behavior. Describe the situation, be objective and factual, and eliminate words and phrases that may be construed as offensive or a personal attack. If you are extremely agitated you should hold off on providing the feedback until you calm down and can communicate calmly and rationally.
Make certain the employee understands what to do in order to correct the situation.
Since the goal of negative feedback is to correct or change behavior, it is important that the individual knows exactly what must be done to improve. The employee may never have received the required training to do the job correctly, or there might have been miscommunication when they took the job. Regardless of what has prompted the negative feedback, it is important to have their assurance that they know how to self-improve.
Provide a timeline for the proposed improvements.
Odds are you want to see the proposed improvements immediately. Though that kind of turnaround might not be feasible, you certainly don’t want to see this dragged out any longer than necessary. The best way to prompt the individual to change behavior is to give them a timeline for when you want to see the improvements.
Stay positive.
Even though you have to provide negative feedback, stay positive and communicate this positivity to the individual. No one wants to feel beaten down before they have even had the chance to try and change their behavior.
Remember that constructive feedback is a great motivator. Praise often and sincerely and you will develop more positive employee and vendor relations.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white.