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Friday, October 28, 2011

Coats + Blankets 2011

As a small business owner, I have learned over the years how important it is to occasionally step away from my own concerns and remember that there are millions in need in the U.S. and across the world. As part of the vitalink® 15-year anniversary, we committed to doing 15 “points of service” – pro bono and volunteer activities – throughout the year.

One of these activities is the second annual vitalink coats + blankets drive! Last year, with seven of our business partners, we collected hundreds of coats and cold weather items and quite a bit of cash to benefit the Raleigh Rescue Mission ( The economy is still struggling and there are many individuals and families here in Raleigh (as elsewhere) that are homeless or very close to losing their homes. Many are unable to afford to heat their houses or apartments and cannot buy warm coats for their children. Every time I think about my problems, I recognize how lucky I truly am compared to some others who struggle every day with the basics.

I encourage you to find a charity or a cause and donate your money, your time, or both. It can put things in perspective and you’ll feel better about yourself. If you are in the Raleigh area and would like to give to the vitalink coats + blankets drive, send us an e-mail or give us a call at 919.850.0605. If you’re not in the area, search locally for a shelter or other good cause and give them a call. You’ll be glad you did.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lessons from Tebow

I know not all of you are football fans, but we can all learn lessons everywhere when we look for them. I am a fan of Tim Tebow, the rookie quarterback for the Denver Broncos and Florida Gator (like me). Tebow was a two-time college championship winner and was awarded the prestigious Heisman Trophy in only his sophomore year. In Gainesville and the greater “Gator Nation,” folks thought of him as a kind of football super hero. Great intensity, leadership, and a warrior on the field. He’s also a down to earth person who loves God and his family.

While he has amassed great accolades and went in the first round of the draft, Tebow is far from perfect. Many thought he would go in a much lower round of the draft due to his throwing style. Many questioned if he could play in the NFL at all as a quarterback. Hmmm, I seem to remember some of the same nay-sayers with former Gator and Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith (the NFL’s all time leading rusher). They thought he was too small, too slow. He was just determined and set records that still stand today.

Bottom line, Tim Tebow inspires me to accomplish things. One of his high profile team mates commented that his style and delivery may not be pretty, this guy is “magical.” I agree. He inspires his team mates. He inspires followers. The game this past weekend was in Miami and the Dolphins fans were cheering for Tebow (the other team)! His jersey, #15, is the #1 selling jersey in the NFL.

Here are a couple of lessons I’ve learned from Tebow:

1. You don’t have to fit the mold or have the best “mechanics;” be passionate and work hard— don’t let anyone say you can’t do something. You might just succeed and inspire others along the way.

2. In a “bad boy” athlete era, Tim Tebow is respectful talking with the media, respectful of opportunities and of his team. Kudos. Be respectful and you’ll get that back a hundred fold.

3. Being the best (as defined by others) or having the best grades doesn’t mean you’ll be the best leader. It also doesn’t make you the best producer. So what if you are a little different. Play your game. Work at it and play hard and with heart.

4. This guy would literally pick the team up on his back if he could. His most memorable speech came after a loss at Florida when he said he’d let the team down, but nobody would ever work harder than him. He took responsibility and then worked his butt off.

5. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Share your passion and you will find like minded people and earn respect. Tebow went on mission trips as a youth and still thanks God. Like it or not, you gotta respect him.

6. He is passionate about this game. Find something you love and commit to being your best. It won’t always be easy and you won’t always win, but there is joy in it.

Football fanatic (like me) or someone who doesn’t know what pigskin is, these are some great lessons. What have you learned from someone that you didn’t expect to learn from? I’d love to hear some other words of wisdom from unexpected sources!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


In today’s hectic business environment, managers and employees can lose focus on strategy and long-term goals while fighting daily fires. It doesn’t matter if your business has five employees or 50, a retreat or annual meeting can be a positive, team building experience that can refresh attitudes and renew a common sense of purpose.

Your retreat should always take place away from the office and technology. Depending on the type of retreat you choose and your budget, this can range from meeting in the backyard of a senior manager who lives on the lake to renting space at a local hotel to a full-service weekend “adventure” retreat that includes outdoor team building exercises. The point is that you are away from distractions. Have everyone dress comfortably and intersperse some physical activity with your sit-down sessions to keep people from tuning out. Add a creative session or two to get the juices flowing; this doesn’t have to be anything fancy—you can use something as simple as an opposites word game or simple drawing exercise. And don’t forget healthy, nutritious food to keep everyone alert (okay, and some chocolate for good measure).

There are several types of sessions that may be of value during a retreat:
Social Presence: Get input from your staff on your social media presence and policies, and get them involved in representing the company. In the “Facebook world,” all employees can and should help by watching for comments about the company and sharing the good things you do.
Branding: Do your employees understand the company brand? Engage them on ways to ensure brand consistency and ask them for new ideas that will promote the brand.
Strategic Planning: What is the firm’s strategy? Its goals? Are employees aware of the goals? If the strategy and goals have been defined, involve employees so they understand and can help focus on meeting these goals. If the goals haven’t been set yet, get employee input. Many times people at lower levels have insight into the customers and market that senior managers lack.
Team Building/Motivation: Wrapping up your day with a motivational session sends everyone away energized and ready to tackle the world when they return to work!
Tell clients that the office will be closed that day and provide an emergency-only number for them to call if necessary. The goal is to get your team back on track and focused on the long-term health of the business. Need more information about sessions for your retreat? Give us a call at (919) 850-0605 or e-mail us at

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