Write Daily to Overcome Obstacles

Do you have a method to overcome obstacles in your life? You might not have thought about this before, but consider how much this could help you in your life. You probably have a number of obstacles that you’d like to overcome, but you’ve never thought about a process that might help resolve them.

Is this even possible, you might wonder? Yes, writing is a tool that can help you reflect on your obstacles one at a time and find solutions from within. In fact, this is one of the best ways to overcome obstacles.

Obstacles show up lots of ways in life. It could be a health problem or a big financial debt. It could be a relationship challenge. You might feel challenged because you lack confidence to move forward because a parent, teacher or other influential person in your life criticized you. You might fear rejection or you might be challenged with a self-imposted obstacle such as perfectionism. Regardless of what it is, stay with me. I’m here to assure you that you can overcome obstacles.

overcome obstacles

Your greatest gift is something that you already hold within. Did you realize that you already have access to the answers of how to resolve your own obstacles? Who would know better than you? It can be helpful to seek advice on how to overcome obstacles from others who pushed through similar obstacles. You can surely learn from their story and what advice they have to offer, but ultimately, you have to take into consideration how their suggestion might fit into your own life situation.

Your life is like a puzzle where all the pieces affect the others. It all fits neatly together to form a big picture. Just because someone else used a drastic measure to remove an obstacle from their life, such as divorce, doesn’t mean you need to go to this extreme to overcome obstacles you’re having with your spouse. Divorce, in fact, can open up new obstacles especially if children are involved. You need to take into consideration the whole picture. Who could possibly know better than you all the factors that you might want to consider?

It can be helpful to seek some advice from supportive friends and loved ones who know you and might be able to give some friendly advice, but be sure to remember that when you ask for advice, some people might want to hit you back later with an “I told you so” whipping. If you choose to ask for advice, be sure to carefully consider the source and whether or not they’re able to overcome obstacles in their lives.

In Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, there’s a section in the book about overcoming obstacles. The majority of the stories are from successful writers who faced obstacles with their health, or with teachers who discouraged them about their writing. Each of them tells their story of how they chose to work through the obstacle rather than let it stop them from being the writers they wanted to be. Even if you don’t want to be a full-time writer, consider how helpful it might be to use the power of writing to overcome your own obstacles.

Prolific writer, Chet Cunningham, tapping out one of his 300 books!

Chet Cunningham tells the story of how he failed the English entrance exam when he applied to college and he started college in a low level English class. He wanted to major in journalism and one of his professors called him aside to let him know that he didn’t think he’d be able to make it as a journalist.

Fortunately, Chet worked around this scholarly obstacle and submitted articles to the local newspaper which got published while he was still in college. Instead of being halted by the professor’s discouraging words, Chet decided he would work three times as hard as the other students and sure enough he published even more articles in the local papers. Eventually, the professor accepted him as a journalism major. Chet went on to write 300 books. Yes, that’s right. It’s not a typo. He wrote 300 books!

Consider one of the challenges you’re facing in your life now. It probably comes to mind often and troubles you, but then you find a way to calm down that voice and remind it to go away. What if, instead, you sat down to write about the challenge to see what comes of it? The solution might not come to you in a day, but if you continue to write to overcome obstacles day after day, you’ll be surprised at how you can really do some housecleaning in your life and in your mind. As you get more clear with your thinking and come up with strategies on how to overcome obstacles, you  have the opportunity to enjoy more fun and rewards in your life.overcome obstaclesYou might be thinking that you have bigger obstacles, ones that are too big to write your way through them. But you won’t know if you don’t try. You have to write to get to that inner voice and hear what it has to say. You will come up with answers.

But what if you’re facing a big personal challenge with a family member who is sick or recently passed away and you have unresolved issues? Sit down and write and you’ll find the lessons that were designed just for you. Whatever is happening in your life means that you’re the one who was meant to deal with it. It came your way for a reason. And it’s up to you to move through it or around it. As you set an example to others of how you overcome obstacles, you’ll gain respect from them and you’ll gain confidence to keep pushing through more obstacles in your life as well.

Just because you were rejected once doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try again. Just because someone said you were a failure doesn’t make them right unless you submit to their opinion. Just because you don’t have a college degree doesn’t mean you can’t write. You can write to overcome obstacles.

Just because you’re facing a health challenge doesn’t mean you can’t write. Stephen Hawking wrote more than a dozen books despite his physical challenges with motor neuron disease. And Ray Charles became one of the most famous songwriters of his time despite the fact that he was blind.
My parents discouraged me from pursuing writing as a career, while my teachers encouraged me to pursue my talent and passion for writing. Fortunately, I had enough confidence to stick to my dream and went on to pursue the education I needed to become an English professor. Later I changed the direction of my career to marketing and then corporate education and quality control, but the hub of my career has always evolved around writing.

I acquired the habit of writing morning pages after reading The The Artist’s Way at Work by Mark Bryan and Julia Cameron. When I write every morning, I inevitably end up writing about some of the challenges I’ve been facing, some of the projects I’ve been procrastinating, and some of the overwhelm I sometimes feel in trying to figure out how I can accomplish all I want to do.

As I write through each of my obstacles one at a time day after day, I inevitably find a ways to overcome obstacles. Sometimes it means that I figure out a way to remove a person or situation from my life. Other times it might be that I finally decide to start tackling a project and it gets done faster than I expect. Other times I might be dealing with a challenge with a relationship, and inevitably as I write about it, I find the best way to overcome the obstacle at least for now.

How writing daily can help you stop procrastinating. 

As you write about challenges, there comes a point when you realize that there’s no point in complaining about them day after day. It’s quite empowering instead to brainstorm ways you might overcome obstacles. This plants seeds and solutions that will lead you forward. And finally, after you overcome obstacles, remember to note how you became a better person through the experience.

Tips to manage your business reviews

Business reviews are more important than advertising. Customer reviews can have a big impact on your business. Opinions about your business are easy to find and buyers are more informed today than ever. Regardless of whether you’re selling a ten-dollar widget or a ten-thousand-dollar service package, buyers read about your product or service before they ever step foot into your business or try your product. This is equally true if you’re a nonprofit or any other organization who wants to attract people to whatever it is that you have to offer.

business reviews like stars

Buyers can browse through reviews and read other’s opinions about your business or organization before you have a chance at a first impression.

Decision-makers are armed with smart phones. They can stand at your front door or see your product on a (virtual) shelf and quickly learn what others have to say about it. And even if they don’t have time to read reviews, they can take a quick glance to see how many stars you have compared to other options they’re considering.

Good reviews are helpful because they let you know what customers appreciate. Bad reviews are helpful because they help you learn how to improve your business. 

After reading reviews, buyers approach your business with expectations based on what they’ve already read. Since they’ve chosen your business, it’s likely because all the stars have aligned. You’re positioned at the right time and location when they’re ready to take action.

So what can you do as a business owner to embrace business reviews and attract more customers? Take a look at some of the following ideas to see what might apply to you:

Accept negative reviews as opportunities to learn

Yelp is recognized as one of the most popular business review sites. Lots of small businesses owners have a love-hate relationship with Yelp. The good side of Yelp is that a small hole-in-the wall coffee shop has the opportunity to outrank a big franchise such as Starbucks. It gives small businesses a chance to get noticed and thrive. But lots of small business owners also fear that Yelp can hurt their business. Consider some of these Yelp experiences:

No one likes to be judged. By their very nature, judgments are attacks. Business owners who get bad business reviews can and do get dismayed. And Yelp, no doubt, feels the same about this upcoming Billion Dollar Bully documentary by Prost Films.

The best way to look at Yelp and every other review tool is that these are extra doors to your business. Some turn out to be more welcoming than others.

Release your grievances toward others and you’ll find that they begin to melt all around you.

Learn from your competitors’ business reviews

Amazon reviews can affect your business whether you’re selling through Amazon or not. If your customers are shopping in a brick and mortar store, they can check to see what others think about a product and do a quick price comparison. If it’s cheaper on Amazon, they can add it to their cart with a quick click knowing that it will show up at their front door within a day or two. Amazon has had a big impact on both online and brick and mortar stores. If you’re selling products that are also available on Amazon, or if you’re selling through Amazon, these reviews can affect your business.

Glassdoor business reviews employees

This David Horsey cartoon offers insight into Amazon’s company culture. Behind-the-scenes Glassdoor business reviews can influence the talent you attract and the ultimate results you get in your business.

Ask every happy customer to write a business review

Google reviews and ratings conveniently pop up when you’re searching for places on Google maps. Google maps search along route feature is useful when you’re trying to save time and make convenient stops. Whether you have a brick and mortar location or not, Google encourages you to remind customers to leave a review. Learn more about how to get reviews on Google.

business reviews ratings Google maps search along route

Google Maps lets you search for food, gas, and more along your navigation route.

Foursquare brands itself as a “location intelligence company.” It’s also a good contender for finding food, nightlife or shopping business reviews and ratings by location. If your business falls into one of these categories, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your Foursquare business reviews.

Disable ratings and reviews

Facebook allows you to choose whether or not you want to enable business reviews on your business page. Go to the Facebook Help Center to learn how to allow or disable ratings and reviews on your page. If you go to Facebook’s @facebook page, you’ll see that they, ironically, do not have this feature enabled. If every business review system gave you the option to disable the ratings on your business, you could choose to ignore ratings altogether. But going dark online also makes you invisible to potential customers who use online search tools to guide their buying decisions.

Yelp vs Google vs. Facebook Reviews: which should you focus on and why?

Hire bloggers to provide you with business reviews

Bloggers are a terrific resource for business reviews. Bloggers can educate people about your business. They can share reviews that highlight the benefits of your product or service. They can share a customer testimonial telling what it’s like to work with you. You can find bloggers on just about any topic. They can help you come up with creative ways to share your business. Many are willing to barter in exchange for product or service samples, so it’s worth asking. If you’d like to go this route, here are some tips on how to ask bloggers for backlinks and reviews. By the way, if you’d like me to blog about your business, contact me today to discuss the possibilities.

Invite YouTubers to film your product or service

YouTube offers a platform for anyone with a smart phone who wants to share their thoughts about a flight, an electronics product, an RV, or anything else on their mind. YouTube is an ideal way to let people get a glimpse into what you have to offer, especially if it already lends itself well to an audience, such as a church or a school, for example where preachers and teachers are already talking to an audience. Although YouTube is driven by videos, anyone can comment on the content. This, in essence, is a form of a business review to a YouTuber. And if you’re part of the video, you can get feedback as well.

YouTubers who have lots of subscribers can have a big influence on their followers. And they have the freedom to tell stories on just about anything, including educating people on new products. Consider this “Hands Free Segway thing” review post by YouTuber Casey Neistat:

Snap photos of happy customers

Instagram tends to be a happy place. It’s a terrific app that allows you and your customers to snap, post and share attractive pictures within a few minutes. If your customers are taking the time to mention you in their Instagram feed, it’s probably positive. Smile and welcome the photos.

In addition, Instagram gives you the opportunity set up your business profile on Instagram and self-promote with annotated photos. Be sure to use hashtags to attract your ideal customers.

Connect with your community

Nextdoor offers a feature for recommendations. If you depend on local work or walk-in traffic, this is a great way to connect with people in your neighborhood. If your business isn’t already listed, you can add a business in recommendations for free. This is a great app to spark face-to-face friendships and goodwill referrals within your community. Once you establish your reputation, satisfied customers will naturally want to share brief reviews along with their referrals.

business profile reviews Nextdoor

Respond to business reviews

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) touts itself as a tool to help “people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust.” In practice, however, the BBB tends to be the go-to place where customers log serious complaints against a business because they know this is a place where the business owners might actually take action to resolve a complaint. Click here for an overview of how BBB ratings are calculated.

A BBB rating is not an indicator of the success of a business. Amazon, for example, is one of the biggest businesses in the United States. Although the majority of its customer reviews are negative, Amazon maintains an A+ rating with the BBB.

Make it a high priority to be responsive to complaints not only on the BBB, but anyplace else where they might pop up.

business reviews BBB rating

Respond to questions about your business

Quora defines itself as “a place to share knowledge and better understand the world.” It’s a great place to engage with chatty intellects who are willing to answer questions posed by its users. Buyers don’t necessarily go directly to Quora for business reviews, but if you offer a complex product or service that costs a few hundred dollars or more, you might want to take a serious look at Quora. Chances are, people are talking about it. Some brands are so prominent that all their questions are grouped together. If you’re an Evernote user, and I highly recommend it by the way, check out some of the Evernote Q&As posed on Quora.

Review your customers

Uber, Airbnb, OfferUp, OpenTable and more companies are not only giving customers a chance to rate the service provider, but also giving the service provider a chance to rate their customers. When both parties know they’re evaluating each other, it tends to result in a more cordial interaction. And this is reflected the exchange of reviews and ratings. If it makes sense for your business model to offer mutual ratings, consider adding the option.

business reviews customer reviews

Join a matchmaking site

Angie’s List is a membership site that “eliminates anonymous reviews giving you trusted, more credible info to make the right choice.” If you’re a contractor, for example, and finding high quality customers is important to you, Angie’s List might be a good fit for you. Be prepared to go through through their background check. If you’re interested in listing your business, check out Angie’s List Business Center to learn more.

Consumer Affairs provides “expert resources and verified reviews” to help customers make smarter buying decisions. Their philosophy is that “everyone deserves to make smart decisions based on unbiased feedback and research-driven information.” They encourage visitors to write business reviews about their experiences with their member brands. Check out their Brands platform to see if it might be right for your business.

Participate in a business review site that makes sense for your niche

If you own a restaurant, you might want to consider Zagat which helps foodies “cut through the clutter of available dining choices” to find the best places wherever they are. Or OpenTable where your customers can “make restaurant reservations the easy way.”

If you manufacture a product, you might set a goal to be a featured product in Consumer Reports or the Environmental Working Group “whose mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.”

business reviews ratings EWG healthy living app

If your business depends on your reputation as an expert, consider writing a book. Goodreads is a terrific place for you as a leader to share your bookshelves and review books. Between Goodreads and Amazon, indie authors have an opportunity for their books to rise to the a bestseller and they have the opportunity to compete with all the big name publishers. Goodreads is a terrific tool for authors and their readers. And it’s also a great place to find, read and review books in your industry. To make the most of your reviews, follow Goodreads Review Guidelines.

Keep Twitter on your watch list

Twitter’s mission is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” This means that you can share information about your business while tagging anyone you want. And it means that others can do the same to you. For better or worse, others can also create fan clubs such as Trader Joe’s List or protest groups such as InequalityAtWlmt. Twitter is not a main contender when it comes to business reviews, but depending on the type of business you operate, you might want to keep it on your watch list.

Highlight customer testimonials on your website

Nearly every business can benefit by having a website. It’s the one place online where you can define your brand and the intent of what you have to offer. It’s a great place to highlight a variety of customer testimonials that give insight into the benefits of what you have to offer.

If you have a content rich and attractive website, buyers are more likely to check it out to see what you have to offer. This is the one place where you have complete control of your customer testimonials.

Provide great customer service to everyone

Your best line of defense is to treat all your customers and employees with love and respect. Encourage everyone in your business to read and discuss books that help to develop their people skills such as: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

If you need a writer to help with responses to your business reviews, or assist with content marketing on your website, let me know. I’d love to help. Contact me today.

Lorraine Haataia

Dr. Lorraine Haataia has expertise in several industries including education, construction and transportation. She believes that our thoughts create our reality. She’s passionate about writing because it gives readers the opportunity to learn on demand, expand their minds, and benefit by seeing the world in a new way.

How to get happy now via habits, goals and resolutions

What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming week? Do you have any major goals you’re working toward? Whether I’m talking with an old friend or getting to know someone new, I like to ask these questions. It’s a good way to get to know people better.

The way they answer is a gauge of their current state of happiness. Some people light up and describe in vivid detail the vision they’re executing. Others hunch forward and tell stories about of how and why their happiness has been put on hold indefinitely, often because of the noble sacrifices they’re making for others.

When is the best time to do something that makes you happy? The best answer is “now,” and “today,” or “ASAP.” Now is the only time you have and this is true every single day. Your life is happening now right in front of your eyes. Look around. It’s passing by even when you aren’t paying attention.

collage habits

Molly Anthony has a habit of creating mixed media art to inspire others to be creative. Instagram@mkranthony

How about now?

Many people miss the power of the present moment because they’re too busy lamenting over the past or projecting into the future. The more you can discipline your mind to stay in the present, to take actions now to design the life you want, the more likely you are to smile more and complain less.

You may admire others who have more money than you, travel more than you do, have better jobs, more fame, or bigger or better whatever. You may think you want what they have, but you really don’t know until you take the opportunity to experience it personally. You don’t know how well it will fit until you try it on or walk in their footsteps. If you did, it might surprise you.

goals list cartoon

Lots of people take time to check in with Facebook, TripAdvisor, or Yelp, but forget to check in with themselves. When you feel your mood swinging up or down, make a conscious note of the trigger. Self Check-In. This is a good time to take a moment to reflect on what habits, goals or resolutions you need to make in order to create more emotional up-times in your life. You know you’re getting closer to happiness when you no longer notice the small things that are less relevant because you’re too busy doing what you love to do.

As you think of it, jot down what habits you need to focus on in order to pave the way to a better you

If you have time to slow down and reflect on Sundays, for example, you can reflect back on what went well the prior week and what you want to do different in the upcoming week. Are there new habits you need to put into practice? I love Google Keep for tracking habits or things to do. You can add photos that help you visualize what you want. And you can add checkboxes that you can reset every day, ever week, or whenever you want.

Meditation: The Answer to All Your Problems

It can take about 21 days to acquire a new daily habit, so don’t give up if you miss a day. Just pick up where you left off on the next day. Over time your new habit becomes so engrained in your subconscious that you begin to do it automatically. And when you don’t do it, you miss out on the benefit it provides, which makes you want to go back to doing it. This is The Power of Habit.

Reflect on your smaller short-term goals each month. Are you doing what you need to do on a daily basis? The first day of the month is a good time to begin tracking your progress throughout the month. If it’s the 10th day of the month, then you know you’re about 33% there.

You can also use your birthday as a milestone instead of going with the first of the month. It feels a bit more personal, even though it can take a little longer to calculate progress. If your birthday falls is on the 29th, 30th, or 31st, you may need to use the last day of the month as the fall-back date for the months that don’t include your number.

What do you think you need to do to be happier? Try a 30 day challenge. Check out this clip by Google Webspam team member, Matt Cutts . . .

Some people like to set New Year’s Resolutions. But you shouldn’t wait for the New Year to come around to kickoff a big goal unless you’ve been preparing yourself for it throughout the prior year. Most people don’t keep their New Year’s Resolutions because they aren’t in the habit of setting small goals all year long. They don’t have the habit of making and keeping promises they make to themselves. If you don’t set and accomplish small goals throughout the year, you’re not likely to accomplish big goals that you blurt out once a year.

goals high-definition daydreams

The most common type of New Year’s Resolution in the US relates to losing weight, exercising more or getting healthier one way or another. Most people have a general idea of what they need to do to be happier, but don’t have the mental will-power to do the day-to-day mundane things that ultimately lead to big results over time. Happiness is as much about the journey as it is a destination.

Sick of diets? Film Diet Plan will help you escape the fat trap. 

One of the biggest problems with waiting until New Year’s Day to make a resolution is that it seems logical to set big goals knowing that you have the whole year to get it done. The year begins with a few procrastination jokes about why you can’t start yet. Your self-talk can go something like this, “I don’t have to do anything for the first month (or quarter) because there’s still plenty of year remaining.”

By the time the second and third quarter of the year roll around, the self-talk, however subtle, can turn into a self-defeating blame-game, “I can’t do this because of this or that family member,” or “I don’t have enough money,” or ” I’m too young or too old.” If you aren’t getting it done, you’ll find an excuse. This can lead to feelings of unworthiness. Psychology Today

Are you happy?

People who keep their New Year’s Resolutions tend to set smaller goals year-round and, more importantly, they keep them. Their smaller goals support their bigger vision. They write down their goals and schedule the daily and weekly activities that direct them toward their ultimate vision.

Every day is the first day of a new year.

Today is the first day of the upcoming 365 days. Consider birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. They can fall on any day of the year. When that day comes around the following year, it’s the beginning of a new year relative to that date. Every day is a good day to make adjustments to your habits and routines in order to create the relationships and environment that bring out the best in you. If something doesn’t go the way you want it to today, start over again as soon as the sun rises.

How to attain authentic happiness in 7 emails

It’s natural to want to move forward and experience life in a fuller way, whatever that means for you. It’s human nature to want expand your space, your influence, your desires and even your things. You can try to do this vicariously through TV, movies and even social media, but if you really want to make the most of your reality, you’ll reach your goals much quicker by spending less time wallowing in passive entertainment and more time taking action to help them to manifest in your life.

There’s No Such Thing As Bad Habits

If your current habits aren’t getting you where you want to go, start making changes today. Here are several things to consider as you make adjustments to your habits, goals and resolutions:

Tidy up to free up more time and space for what you want most.

People often set goals that are too time-consuming or disruptive to their current lives without deciding what no longer adds value. The hours of your days are already full, so you’ve got to let go of less important activities in exchange for the new. Tidying up, in itself, can often relieve you of financial and mental stress which may result in greater happiness.

Connect with others who share your driving interests.

Technology has made it easy to find people who share your passion. Search for clubs or MeetUps in your area so you can build friendships with like-minded friends.

Clarify your next actions.

Not knowing what to do next is like a having a clogged drain in your brain. You feel stuck, but can’t seem to get past it. When this happens, you may need to get advice from a mentor or someone who has already done what you want to do. I use Todoist to track my next actions and daily tasks. In his blockbusting bestseller on productivity, David Allen talks about the power of sorting things out based on the next action.

Negotiate small ongoing changes with others.

As you make changes to your life, you’ll often face resistance from those around you who don’t understand what’s going on. If you’re persistent about making adjustments on a regular basis, then people have time to adjust their own habits and attitudes as they see your progress.

Happiness is not accomplished by amassing a large number of things. If you’re passionate about gardening or animals, you may want to let go of some of the things you have in order to acquire some land. If you want to go off the grid, you may need to invest in a new home or a renovation to make this dream a reality. The same holds true for any passion you might have.


Let go of unnecessary possessions and self-defeating habits one by one in order to make more room for happiness. Don’t wait. Do it now. Once you awaken to the possibilities, you begin to realize that no one but you is holding you back.





Journal Your Dreams

Last night I had a dream about a former colleague, Barbara. We were sharing an office in a big old building. Someone asked for her business card when she wasn’t there, so I tried to give him one. She had a box of cards and each one was different. Some were cut out in the shape of letters, and they had lots of different job titles. Each one had a different beautiful photo of her, some in color and some black and white. I didn’t know which one to give him.

The concept might exist already, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could give everyone a unique business card? It would have more value as a one-of-a-kind card. A few times in the past I got business cards from artists who put a few brush strokes on cards they stamped with their contact info. But that’s a time-consuming and fruitless task considering that most people these days toss business cards after they digitally record the information they need.

Why did Barbara play the leading role in my dream-movie last night?

Perhaps because she made a big impression on me the first time I met her years ago in Puerto Rico. She went out of her way to show me her beautiful historic home town, Old San Juan. She’s a strong and self-confident woman who would make a great mentor to other women. I admire her ability to make life-changing decisions and continue to smile no matter what’s going on in her personal or work life. She exudes positive energy and presence when she enters a space.

Where on earth do these dreams come from?

Well I’m not sure of the answer to that question, but as a writer, I am sure about what to do when you wake up from one of these dreams. Write it down right away so you don’t lose the thought. There’s a good chance that you can capture some aspect of the dream to write about in the future.

What might have triggered this dream?

Possessions. I’m in the process of liquidating most of our stuff for an upcoming move to China. I’ve been cleaning out my office, including business cards. I have a big collection of them because I like saving ones with cool graphics, photos, or other interesting design elements. So I’ve acquired quite a few over the years. And I’ve been cleaning out furniture and cabinets, including my nightstand drawers where I recently saw my dream journal. I’ve also been thinking about designing a new business card, not only because I have a book coming out soon, but also because I’ll be moving to China. The old business card definitely needs to be updated.

Do you have a dream journal?

Say yes. I keep a journal in the nightstand next to my bed. I got out of the habit of writing down my dreams, but was reminded this morning of how powerful these ideas can be for future stories. Your brain already created some strange scene. Now you own the right to publishing it. Write it down or you’ll probably forget it by the time you have your morning coffee. You’ll be sipping  your coffee mentioning to someone, “I had an interesting dream last night about . . . well . . . I can’t seem to remember now.”

Want to design a sustainability strategy to improve business processes and work environments while reducing cost and waste?

Experts apply creativity when they design work places and processes. Employees do their best, more or less, to work in and around these environments and constraints. In the meantime, things are always changing: competition, systems, regulations, suppliers, customer requirements, and so on. This is why organizations need to continually measure, improve and evaluate the effectiveness of their environmental management systems.
Left unchecked, organizations lose pennies from unnecessary waste, nickels due to fossilized policies, dimes from inefficient processes, quarters from communication breakdowns, and dollars when employees and customers become complacent.
Dr. Lorraine helps organizations with environmental improvements from the inside out, from the strategic position and policy, to the aspects and procedures that drive activities and financial results. Dr. Lorraine is a consultant who develops training materials to help companies engage employees, orchestrate profitable green initiatives, and communicate their environmental performance both internally and externally.
Her mission is to facilitate the exchange of sustainable ideas across industries and occupations to help organizations reduce waste by improving their business processes and work environments.

Green Up Your Next Off-Site Meeting

Looking for some ideas on how to green your off-site meetings? Start with a sustainable location. Check out this “Green Meetings” presentation for more information on choosing a green hotel:

To locate a hotel with at least some awareness or attempt at sustainability, check out these sites:

Green Hotels Association
Greener Hotels
Green Key Global

There’s no guarantee that these hotels are “greener” than the hotel down the street from them, but at least they’ve taken a step or two in their journey toward greater sustainability.

If you’d like to find a hotel that is truly committed to sustainability through third party auditing and verification, look for a Green Globe Certified Hotel and check out the criteria they follow to earn their place among the most sustainable hotels in the world.

If you have another site you’d like to add to the list, or if you have a tip on how to green meetings, please comment on this posting.

To learn more about sustainable meetings and events, check out the Green Meetings Industry Council, an organization committed to education and activities related to planning better meetings.

Want to see an example of a green hotel? Check out this Hospitality World Network article about the Aria.

Shapiro Uses Beeswax to Create Green Art

Have you heard of encaustic painting? Me neither, until today when I had the opportunity to meet encaustic artist, Rebecca Shapiro, at her studio in Portland, OR. Unlike entering the studio of an artist who works with oil paints, the studio of an artist who works with beeswax smells refreshing and delightful. The melted wax is a form of artistic aromatherapy.

Here’s what Rebecca has to say about her art:

Influenced by a childhood in the Pacific Northwest, I strive for sustainable practices in my studio and earth friendly materials in my mediums. I have always embraced a green heart and am currently exploring what it means to be a sustainable artist seeking kinship between art, nature and the human experience. I hope my art will help us all remember the interconnectedness of life.

A few years ago, I switched to encaustic because it is a more earth friendly choice for me. There is very little waste and I don’t have to wash anything down the sink when I rinse my brushes. There is also a satisfying unity between the plants that inspire me, the bees that pollinate them and the beeswax. Each layer of wax allows me to be innovative, building my subject with glorious textures and ethereal depth. Sometimes, forty to fifty layers of wax are fused in a piece to abstract the essence of a plant. This sensuous medium gives me the freedom to express my love for the wild braid of colors, lines and forms in plants.

As being green and sustainable practices are being implemented in business, I would like to see businesses take their commitment a step further by purchasing/leasing art from artists who share the similar philosophies about being green. I would like to see a new breed of art patron emerge, that of the eco-art collector. These are people and organizations who use their dollars and support artists and their art who are considering their materials, studio practices and personal philosophy and in some cases, even their subject matter.

So, just what is sustainable fine art? In a nutshell, sustainable means to be made from renewable resources without depleting future resources, something that can continue indefinitely. If you look back through time, art certainly does that. Look at the paintings of Lascaux, DaVinci or Picasso. These works can be defined as sustainable because so far, they have continued indefinitely and we want to do everything to conserve them.

But now, things have changed. Sustainable fine art can’t just mean that you’ve created an image worthy of preservation. Sustainable fine art means that you, as an artist, must consider your materials, your studio practices and your personal philosophy. It means that you, as an art collector, use your dollars to support sustainable art and create a new breed known as the eco-art collector.

No, what I’m talking about is digging deeper into what sustainability means and apply art to the cradle to cradle concept. Cradle to cradle asks us to transform the way we make things – the way we make art. When a product returns to its industry at the end of a useful life and its materials are used to make valuable new products that do not return to the landfill, this is sustainable.

Why not design products so safe they don’t need regulation? Imagine a relationship between artist and eco-art collector where the artwork is returned, reworked and reinvented at the end of its life. Imagine a painting that has served its purpose, tossed on your garden for composting which feeds plants that are used to create pigments for future use.

There is amazing fine art out there made from recycled and reclaimed materials. But what about the fine artist like me that uses paints, pencils, inks, charcoals, pastels, paper, adhesives, varnishes, photography, etc? I might be green in my beliefs, studio practices and imagery but what if my medium isn’t sustainable? How can I create art but make choices that leave little or no impact? I don’t have all the answers but it’s worth having a conversation and exploring.

If you’re looking for beautiful botanical art, check out Shapiro’s work. Her pieces are ideal conversation-starters in locations such as:

  • flower shops
  • natural food stores
  • aromatherapy shops
  • green spas
  • anyplace that sells honey or bee products
  • green art galleries
  • businesses located near bee farms
  • organic or healthful restaurants
  • botanical garden shops
  • natural museum stores

If you have more ideas about where encaustic art might be featured, or you have something else you’d like to say, please leave a comment and add to the buzz about encaustic art! It’s safe art without the sting of toxins.

Support Triple Bottom Line Companies

Dr. Lorraine Haataia encourages viewers to pay attention to the companies they’re supporting, and to choose to buy from triple bottom line companies like Patagonia, Whole Foods Market, Chipotle and Nike.

Barba’s Bioclimatic Approach Saves Energy

Javier Barba, principal architect with Estudio BC Architects in Barcelona, designs with respect for nature and its resources. His bioclimatic approach includes incorporating earth-sheltering roofs and harmonizing structures with their surroundings to take advantage of the local climate conditions and good views. His timeless buildings are positioned to take advantage of natural light while avoiding severe solar conditions. Learn more about his principles on this CNN interview:

LOL at the Old Yellow Pages

“I need to make some copies to be ready for my class tomorrow morning. Do you know where I can make some copies?” Page asked, as she tugged down her tight purple top which barely covered her midriff.

“Office Depot,” her manager answered.

“Do you know the phone number?” Page demanded as she tagged another shirt.

“I’m not sure,” the manager began walking further away from the register area.

“I need to find out when they close, but I don’t want to run up my phone bill for the number,” Page pleaded, flicking her nose ring forward and backward.

“There’s a phonebook under the register, help yourself,” her manager responded shaking his head.

Page lifted the thick dusty book off the lower shelf. She plopped it on the countertop–the thump added an extra loud drum beat to the store’s contemporary rock music. She started pushing the pages forward and backward with great frustration.

The old yellow pages have little significance to a younger generation. I was recently in a clothing store around 7 PM when I overheard this conversation between a young college student and the store manager.

“How do I find Office Depot? What do I look up?” she asked. With these questions, she captured my full attention, and at the same time, lost the attention of her agitated manager who walked yet further away.

“Look up FedEx Kinko’s,” I suggested. “I think they’re open later than nine.”

“OK” she said, as she continued flipping pages randomly without any effort of finding any particular letter of the alphabet. She dropped her head back, adjusted her pony tail and rolled her eyes.

“It would take forever to find anything in here,” she pushed a few buttons on her cell phone and asked for FedEx Kinko’s. A few moments later, she announced, “I’m screwed! Kinko’s closes at nine.”

“Office Depot, OfficeMax and Staples all close at nine too,” I told her, hoping to save her some time from making more calls.

“Can I finish up here and leave early? I have to do my homework,” she begged without looking up, while at the same time responding to a text message on her phone.

I’m not sure how this story ended because I left. The rock music annoyed me and I was turned off by employees who were more concerned about clothing and classes than they were about their customers. Neither one said ‘hello’ or asked if I wanted help.

Although I didn’t purchase anything, I did leave with a free treasure. I learned something about the younger generation. Page and the older manager definitely weren’t on the same page! Page had very little patience for a thick heavy phonebook–to her it was nothing but inefficient. She grew up with the expectation of instant answers after typing a few letters or numbers into a cell phone or into an online phone directory.

Some people in older generations may be baffled by a text message written in foreign acronyms, LOL, while the younger generation is equally puzzled why anyone would value a thick book full of hard-to-find numbers that gets updated only once a year!

If the success of your business is in the hands of a younger generation and you’d like to be sure to accommodate their ideas and their needs, while maintaining overall employee satisfaction, contact Dr. Lorraine for a consultation. If you didn’t know that LOL stands for laugh out loud, use a tool like AcronymSearch.com, or Slang, Chat and Pop Culture acronyms on AcronymFinder.com. Your answer will pop right up!


Dr. Lorraine

Write Down Your Processes for Goodness’ Sake

“Last time I was here, I had no problem swapping mashed potatoes for the French fries. So why is it a problem today?” a customer retorts with frustration.

“When I bought the car, I was told your service policy was to wash my car every time it comes in for service, but half the time, you tell me my car is ready, but I’ll have to wait longer if I want it washed.”

Sound familiar? Ever had the rules changed on you?

Are you familiar with the Telephone game in which one person whispers a message into the ear of the next person? The way this game goes is that a group of individuals form a circle and one person starts with the original news. The information is transferred from one person to the next until it goes all the way around the circle. As the message comes back around, the last person communicates out loud to the whole group–and laughter breaks out as everyone comments on what they thought they heard.

This is a favorite party game around the world because it illustrates how much each person distorts the message to the extent that the final message is often completely unrelated to the original. The larger the group, the more erroneous the message becomes. It’s downright funny how unreliable verbal communication can be. In a game the result is laughter, but in business, the result is leakage!

Now imagine relying on verbal communication in a company with dozens of employees? How about hundreds of employees, or even thousands. People are talking–you can count on it!It’s management’s responsibility to ensure they’re all sending the same message. If top managers want to allow substitutions, do all of your employees permit customers to swap mashed potatoes for French fries? If it’s your policy to wash all cars after servicing them, are you counting how many actually get washed? If these things aren’t happening consistently, what impression do you think you’re giving your customers?

So what does this mean to business owners and managers? It can be very expensive to count on verbal communication as the primary means of running your business. Verbal communication differs tremendously from person to person. Variability is the opposite of stability or standardization.

If every employee does things his or her own way, the customer ends up having a different experience each time he does business with you. Not only does your business success depend on putting standard practices into place, it also depends on being sure that they’re getting carried out every day.

Variability means less predictability and more chaos for your employees and customers. If service or problem resolution is handled a different way each time it happens, customers become frustrated and typically even inform employees how things were done around here the last time. Erratic processes increase employee stress and lower customer satisfaction.

IBM Manager Bob Haataia suggests a good idea. Imagine the same circle game but with a new rule–the first person has to write the message on a piece of paper and read it quietly to their neighbor, then pass it on to the next person and so on, until it goes all the way around the circle. This game wouldn’t be anywhere near as comical as the first because if everyone followed the rules, the first message would be exactly the same as the last.  You can count on it. You can predict it. No game!


If you had 10, 100, or even 1000 people standing in a circle, they could discuss other matters amongst themselves until the written message got around to the last person because they would already know how the game will end. It will end with everyone getting the same message.  There’s no confusion and no stress. If a company has well-written procedures and work instructions and employees are properly trained in carrying out these good practices, then the organization has a much better chance at promoting their brand by giving their customers a consistent experience.

God delivered us a message through his son, but he made sure that there were people around to write down the stories. He didn’t leave it to chance. If God thinks it’s a good idea, I choose to agree.

Some people may interpret the written words a bit differently, and if they do, you have the opportunity to discuss the instructions or procedures to make it more clear to everyone.

Do you have a company mission statement? Are your core business processes written down? Do they support your mission? Is everyone marching in the same direction without tripping over one another?

If you said ‘no’ to any of these questions and would like help in standardizing best practices in your company, contact Dr. Lorraine for a consultation. Together, we can put together plan for you to standardize and continuously improve your processes and your profitability.