3 Life Lessons from a Nazi Soldier

Yesterday, January 27th, was Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In case you didn’t learn about the Holocaust in school, here is a brief synopsis.

The Holocaust was a time in recent history when a Demagogue convinced millions of people that they were racially, morally, and religiously superior to Jews, Gypsies, the Disabled, the Slavic people, Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.  Then, they annihilated over 13 million of these perceived inferiors.

According to Merriam-Webster a Demagogue is:

  1. a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power
  2. a leader championing the cause of the common people in ancient times

In the case of the Holocaust, the demagogue was a man named Adolf Hitler, and the millions of people were called Nazis.

Hans, the European Auto Mechanic

When I was 19, I purchased a sexy, sporty 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible, for $3000, from an alcoholic woman in Carmel, California.  The fact that she was inebriated every time I spoke with her, really has nothing to do with this story.  I just threw that it in for chuckles.  What is important is that the VW was almost ten years old when I bought it.

As you can imagine, ten year old vehicles require regular maintenance.  I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area shortly after purchasing the VW and quickly learned to hate auto mechanics.  I do not want to disparage the entire auto mechanic industry but my experience with them as a 20 year old single woman in a big city was not good.

 My 1980 VW Rabbit Convertible

My 1980 VW Rabbit Convertible

The only solution I had to avoid city mechanics was to take a day off from work and go “home” whenever my car needed repairs.  Home was a 90 minute drive south to Castroville, California, a small farming town near Fort Ord along the Central Coast.

(Oh, how I loved to drive Hwy 1 with the top down listening to “In Your Eyes”.)

You see, in Castroville, there was a wonderfully cheerful and honest mechanic named Hans, who specialized in European motors.  My friend Samantha, who also drove a VW, just not as sexy as mine, had recommended Hans.  I admired Hans, who was in his 60’s or 70’s at the time.  He always took the time to engage in long, friendly conversations.  He was a very good man.

Hans was also a former Nazi soldier.

3 Lessons from a Nazi Soldier

Hans taught me three very important lessons about business and life.  While not the first I had met, he was the first small business owner I had taken the time to get to know.  Remember, I was just 19 or 20 years old when I met Hans, but I paid attention to his actions!

1.  Talk to Your Clients

Every single time I saw him, Hans stopped to chat.  Always friendly, always smiling.  He treated every single client like family.  He taught his staff (which was really just one other mechanic) to also take the time to engage in friendly conversation with clients.  Every interaction at his shop was just downright pleasant.

2.  Go Above and Beyond

My sexy VW started to literally fall apart by the time I was 21 or 22.  Parts would just fall off.  The car was 11 or 12 years old at this point.  The exterior trim fell off.  The window handle on the driver’s side fell off.  My sexy VW was losing her sex appeal, yet still farfegnugen, fun to drive.

I was working for The North Face by then, and had been modeling Hans’ “always friendly, always smiling” demeanor to successfully manage a 40+ million dollar sales territory, and earn a reputation for being on one of the best support agents in the outdoor industry.

Once, I dropped my VW off with Hans for a week for some major repairs, borrowing my mom’s truck to return to the Bay Area.  When I returned the following week, Hans had replaced my missing window handle at no charge.  When I noticed, I gleefully thanked him.  He responded by telling me he kept extra parts like that on hand for just such instances.

With that small gesture Hans taught me to go above and beyond for my clients.  I put that lesson to work in my own career, as well.

3.  Even Good People Can Fall for Demagoguery

Only once, in the many years I knew him, did Hans speak, very briefly, about his time as a Nazi solider under Hitler.  I will never forget the way his shoulders slumped as he looked down at the ground and said,  “I loved that son of a bitch.”

Hans was a good man.  I have to believe in my heart that he had always been a good man.

The most important lesson I learned from Hans was that even good people can do bad things under the influence of a demagogue.

Even good people can do bad things under the influence of a demagogue. Click To Tweet

How to Grow Your Business by Networking | Podcast Episode 39

Last Friday, I had the honor of hosting Mark Herdering, author of Hanging Out for a Living, for an all day workshop based on the principles of his book. It was a huge success, if I do say so myself, but I will let one of the attendees speak for me:

“Just a quick note to express my thanks and appreciation for all of your work and effort in getting Mark Herdering to visit the greater Houston area. I got so much out of meeting Mark and attending his seminar….I am new to SOC (joined just prior to the convention last fall) so he was a very good way for me to continue on with SOC and start 2017 off on an excellent path!” – Kevin O’Connell, Hanging Out for a Living Workshop Attendee

After hanging out all morning with Mark, picking his brain about networking, and his book, I thought it would be fun to record a podcast with him on the way to the airport. It has been 18 months since I recorded my last podcast, which becomes quite clear when you listen to the audio track. However, the content is excellent, and if you can ignore the road noise, please have a listen to our conversation about growing a business through networking.

Hanging Out for a Living Workshop with Mark Herdering

Hanging Out for a Living Workshop with Mark Herdering

How to Grow Your Business by Networking | Episode 39 Show Notes

  • A visit to Mike’s Cigar Room.
  • “You can’t make a living hanging out.”
  • It’s not about network marketing, it’s about how to serve people.
  • Lessons from Nadia and Anton
  • Is print advertising dead?
  • Internet sales is great but face to face is best.
  • The yellow rose cigar sales rep.
  • Finding your place is the digital world and the generation gap.
  • Jay Leno on the poop pollution problem.
  • The woman in the middle of the road.
  • Houston’s tow truck lottery.
  • Oh, we were talking about networking.
  • What do you do when a weed grows in your garden?
  • Neil Degrasse Tyson can explain it.
  • Questions to ask during a one on one.
  • Conversation with a topless waitress.
  • Appropriate, and not so proper, places to have a one-on-one.
  • Renu never eats at networking meetings.
  • You become a very interesting person when you show interest in other people.

Feedback Request

I’d love to hear your opinion of today’s episode.  Leave your comment below.

Got a question or topic suggestion for an upcoming gratitude geek podcast?  Go to speakpipe.com/gratitudegeek to leave your 90 second voice message.  You just might hear yourself in an upcoming episode!

Ways to Subscribe to Gratitude Geek

  • Click here to subscribe via iTunes
  • Click here to subscribe via RSS
  • Click here to subscribe via Stitcher
  • You can also subscribe via PlayerFM

Don’t forget to follow Gratitude Geek on Facebook and Instagram.

I appreciate YOU!

Four Blogging Lessons from 2016

I was not as consistent a blogger in 2016 as in previous years.  Total traffic was about half that of the previous year, mostly because I only added content 8 out of 12 months.

It’s alright.  I forgive myself.  I was out doing all the fun stuff about which I like to blog.

Even though I did not post as often as I would have liked, I did learn a lot about blogging this past year.  More on that in a bit…

Top 5 Blog Posts from 2016

I was a tad bit surprised to see that three of the top 5 most viewed articles in 2016 are from previous years!

  1. 18 Gifts for Someone Going Through Chemo and Radiation (2016)
  2. I Am Statements Examples (2015)
  3. The CAPITAL of Pyramid Schemes (2013)
  4. Why You Need a Chemo Port (2014)
  5. Step-by-Step Guide to Offering Nutritional Advice to Chemo Patients (2016)

Blogging Lessons from 2016

Lesson One:  I want my blog to help people, and it seems I help the most when I write about my breast cancer experience.

Lesson Two:  Posts have sticking power.  I should go back and make sure those old posts are still relevant.

Lesson Three:  I spent a good deal of time and energy on my women who mean business interview series and not one of those interviews made the top 5 list.

Lesson Four:  Most folks who read this blog prefer to use the Facebook Comment Plugin, and they are missing out on a huge self-promotional opportunity.

How to Leave a Comment on a Blog

Sure, the Facebook Comment Plugin is there right there at the bottom of this post, I keep it there because I do not want to lose all the wonderful feedback I’ve received over the years, but it is NOT the best way to leave a comment on any blog because it links to your Facebook profile.  A better option is to scroll down just a tad bit more and use the WordPress comment box so that you can get a link back to your own website!

Why not try it now?  Scroll on down past the Facebook plugin and leave a comment.  Don’t forget to include your URL!

7 Moms Share How They Juggle Work and Family

Running a business is hard enough. Throw parenting into the mix and things can get hectic.

So, I asked a group of successful mompreneurs who belong to Connecting Conroe Business Women, the networking group I facilitate, to weigh in on the big question:  HOw do you juggle work and family?

Side Note:  If you are looking for a networking group in Montgomery County, Texas, you can find Connecting Conroe Business Women on Meetup and Facebook.

How to Juggle Work and Family

Each mompreneur had a different twist in their answer.  Which leads me to believe and every mom, and every family, is different, and different solutions work.


I don’t. Even though neither of my kids live at home I will always respond if their number comes up on the caller ID. Same with the hubby, because they would never call during normal business hours if it wasn’t important to them. For less important things they text ” call me asap” and I do.

No matter what I am doing the needs of the 3 most important people in my life are my top priority.

Clients come next.

Then me.

I will even schedule time for my workout in the calendar, to make myself a higher priority. – Lynda Davies, Fit2BAwesome, LLC


Personal connection is one of my top core values and that carries over into my family life as well. I am a former empty nester. Former because our daughter moved back in with us to do her nursing program. We email and text throughout the day and I intentionally make time for ‘focused’ moments with them. It may be 5 minutes or more but daily contact of some sort to check on them is very important to me. Being an adult, my daughter mostly just needs ‘sounding board’ and advisory times with me. One thing that has always kept us sane during stressful times is lots of laughter together! – Monica League, Massage Therapist and Radio Personality


I try to set work power hour times in 15 minute increments (one hour is too long). So I’ll tell the kids- I’m working Jamberry for just 15 minutes and try to give them something else to do during that time. I also like going to chick fila where there’s an enclosed glass play area where I can watch the kids and work on jamberry. My girls also help me some since they are my little business partners & it’s easier now that my first set of twins are older. It can be hectic & overwhelming to juggle work & family. 🙂 – Suzy Snow, Jamberry


For me my work schedule is ever changing. The more of a routine we have at home, the easier it is to manage running the household and the kids’ schedules. Of course, there will always be the occasional rescheduling of family events due to work demands. The key is working as a team; my Husband and two teenage daughters work with me as a team to help the home life run smoothly; everyone contributes and participates to make it work out. It’s important to be flexible, and good to show your kids routine, but to accept those unexpected situations and to be able to adapt and overcome. Family = team effort =) – Michelle Dixon, Real Estate Professional


Since I work from home I get up before the kids and work and then work off and on depending on their needs after they get up. – Amber Munos, Paparazzi


I set a timer for myself and the kids. I have 4 kids (10, 8, 4, and 9 months) and when the timer is going Mommy works uninterrupted for that time and when the timer goes off, I walk away from my work. It works most of the time and it makes that time super focused and intentional for me. – Callie Wardell, DoTerra Wellness Advocate


My kids are older (20,19,16 and 12) so they have chores around the house to do and my husband actually does a lot of the housework too. I get a lot of work done while they are sleeping in when not in school or while they are at school. I sometimes get them to help me out buy carrying heavy boxes or such. I plan a menu for the week so I know if I need to get any meat out for dinner in the morning and also love cooking with a crockpot /slow cooker for dinners. My business stuff is pretty flexible and I’ve done things from my phone while out with the family. – Kelli Ward, the ecom mom


So, what about you? How do YOU juggle work and family?

Personality Characteristics of Effective Leaders

Today, as we have since 1983, Americans celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a national holiday.  Students and employees around the country are encouraged to offer service to their community on this, the third Monday of January.

Sharing a birthday with the civil rights icon (January 15th) piqued my curiosity about Dr. King at a very young age, and I have great respect for the man who was assassinated 2 years before I was born.

Without a doubt, Dr. King was an effective leader.  Let’s take a look at some of the personality characteristics of effective leaders, like Dr. King.

Personality Characteristics of Effective Leaders

Whether you think that effective leaders are born or made – or a bit of both – there are still some characteristics that distinguish leaders from others. Have you wondered if you or someone you know is a natural leader? Are you interested in learning some characteristics of good leadership? Here are some personality characteristics that tend to go with effective leaders.

Task-Oriented

Are you the kind of person who likes to get things done? Do people come to you and ask you to do something for them and know you’ll do it? Not everyone is task-oriented, but those who are may end up being effective leaders. Being task-oriented means being a “doer,” the kind of person who focuses on getting something done and not stopping until the task is finished.

Task-oriented people generally follow through. This is important in a leader, because leaders have definite goals to reach and people to lead, and people will stop following you if you don’t get things finished.

Also, task-oriented leaders do not need “babysitting” to get something done. They can take initiative on their own – the task itself is motivation.

Honest Self-Image

Leaders tend to be pretty honest about their weaknesses and strengths, but not to the point of letting either one take over. For instance, a leader can balance between recognizing his weakness and not letting that stop him/her, and a leader can see his/her strengths without getting conceited. Those in leadership positions may find that they garner more respect when they are honest and “transparent” about their flaws than if they pretend to be perfect.

People Person

A leader tends to be a people person – someone who derives lots of energy from being around people. Such extroverted personalities make great leaders, but introverts are not barred from leadership, either. You can have a love for people and be introverted; you just respond differently to interacting with others.

In other words, you can be a “people person” even if you find yourself tired of leading at the end of a day. Extroverts and introverts can both be motivated by a love for people and their wellbeing.

“Infectious” Joy

Have you ever been around someone who just seems happy with life in general? If a person shares an idea or thought and seems really happy about it, do you feel like joining him or her? Leaders tend to exhibit this kind of infectious joy that draws other people to them. Positive-thinking leaders have a zest for life that compels other people to join them.

The general consensus is, characteristics of a good leader can be in-born or learned, or a bit of both. If you don’t have all of these traits naturally, you can learn many of them. No two leaders are the same.

Your Turn

What personality characteristic do you feel make for a good leader?  Do share in the comments.

Happy Birthday to Me | My One Word for 2017

Today is my 47th birthday.

I am a Capricorn, born at the tail end of the Year of the Earth Rooster.

Capricorn is an Earth sign.  Ganeshaspeaks.com shares that Capricorns have many positive qualities:  “Faithful, Ambitious, Self-controlled, Determined, Responsible, Sincere.”

According to ChinaHighlights.com, Earth Roosters are “lovely, generous, trustworthy, and popular with their friends.”

Whether or not you believe in astrology, you have to admit, it is fascinating.  And I do see many of the characteristics listed in myself.  I don’t know if I really believe in astrology, but I AM intrigued by the Earth parallels in both signs.

One Word

In 2015, when I turned 45, inspired by Chris Brogan, I picked 3 words to define my year:  cashflow, sensei, and healthy.  In 2016, my 3 words were listen, clear, and travel.  I set intentions by choosing 3 words each year.  I am happy with the results.

This year, I am breaking with tradition and picking just one word, inspired by the Earth parallels, and my desire to bring more focus and clarity into my life;  My word for 2017 is grounded.

I see more tree poses in my yoga practice, a streamlining of projects, and a major decluttering in my future.

Your Turn

Did you pick a word, or 3, for 2017?  Do share!

How to Sell without Selling

Today, I am hosting a workshop with Mark Herdering, author of Hanging Out for a Living, and learning how to grow a 100% referral based business.  How does that sound?  I will be sure to share my key take-aways next week.

Mark arrived from Portland, Oregon, last night, and we have a full couple of days scheduled.  It’s going to be a blast!  I intend to learn as much as I possibly can while he is here.

If you live near The Woodlands, Texas, come hang out with us at Black Walnut Cafe from 9:30 until noon on Saturday morning.

Sell without Selling

Building a referral based business is one way to avoid selling.  Another is to start helping.

A few days ago, my sister’s friend (who is now my friend because of Facebook) posted the following video to her wall and tagged me, because she thinks I am great at sales.

I don’t really consider myself great at sales.  I think I’m great at building rapport, and thinking outside the box, then teaching people how to apply that outside the box idea to their business.

To me, that’s not sales.  That’s helping.

The Door to Door Comedian

The man in the video, Kenny Brooks, is not selling, he is practicing his stand up comedy routine. He comes right out and says he took the job because comedian Jamie Foxx equated his two-year career as a door-to-door salesperson to a 4-year degree in communication.

 

Kenny Brooks is brilliant, and he will absolutely be a huge success when he is done with his self-education.

Video Credit: Sabrina Morgan

Don’t Sell, Help

So back to what my sister’s friend posted…  My response to her post was: “I don’t sell, I help.”

The other day, I spent the afternoon with a handful of lovely women, each a small business owner: personal trainer, paintball field owner, real estate agent, network marketer, jewelry designer. We spent the time sharing ideas about marketing, drinking coffee, and enjoying a cold winter afternoon in a charming coffee shop in a small Texas town.  Sure, I told them about my product, but that was just a small part of the conversation.

I do not sell, I help people, mostly folks with small businesses who need a little guidance with relationship marketing. If they buy from me that is a bonus. First and foremost I help.

How may I help you?

Renu Agrawal Shares 3 Lessons from Failure

Renu Agrawal, founder of ReNu Your Life, LLC, is an energy healer and certified holistic health coach.  Renu is board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. 

We met several years ago when she visited my Toastmasters group.  Renu only attended one meeting, but we stayed in contact, and over time have developed a very strong friendship.  I very much admire her wit, and her willingness to learn, try new things, and grow.  She is generous, good-natured, and an amazing healer.

Learning from Failure

Renu has been an entrepreneur for over 15 years.  She shares how the Law of Attraction hindered her marketing efforts.


My biggest failure was in marketing when I opened a healing center in Connecticut in 2003 with a friend. We both were really good in our skills as healers but had no idea about marketing. We engaged a PR person, we gave out ads in local magazines (FB and social media were not as commonly used in 2003 – 2008), we participated in wellness fairs, etc. but we couldn’t even break even in 5 years.

What I learned as a result:

1. Stress pushes people away (the more we got desperate the more people didn’t show up)

2. We loved our “business” of healing and helping people but didn’t like sales and marketing. We were beating ourselves up for not being good in sales and marketing – now I know the Law of Attraction was fulfilling what we were thinking all the time.

3. The biggest thing I learned was what “not” to do in sales and marketing 🙂


Your Turn

What about you?  Have you ever failed?  What did you learn?