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 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?

Hanging Out for a Living

The Art of Hanging Out for a Living

Hanging Out for a Living by Mark Herdering

Hanging Out for a Living by Mark Herdering

“Doing business is a game, the greatest game in the world if you know how to play it.” – Thomas Watson

The best way to learn how to play the game of business is to study.  So, I read listen to a lot of business books.  I also like a good story.  Most non-fiction is just so boring.  There are a few great business books out there that also tell a story.  Og Mandino and Tim Templeton are masters of non-fiction story telling.

You might not have heard of him, but in my humble opinion, Mark Herdering is up there with the great business parable authors of the ages.

“Hanging Out for a Living” by Mark Herdering is by far the best sales and marketing book I have ever read.  It’s a story about a man named Tyler who meets an unlikely mentor who teaches him the art of earning referrals.  It reads like a parable, or modern-day folk tale, explaining step-by-step exactly how to build a referral based business.

Hanging Out with Mark Herdering

Hanging Out with Mark Herdering

Hanging Out for a Living Workshop

I like Mark’s book so much that I invited him to fly in from Portland, Oregon to present a workshop in The Woodlands, Texas on Friday, January 13, 2017.  This event will help sales professionals and small business owners:

  • Become top-producers
  • Generate more referral-based business
  • Be a professional resource to others
  • Create strategic referrals and introductions
  • Improve business development efforts

If you live in the greater Houston area, and you want to build a referral based business, then you need to attend this paradigm shifting workshop on Friday, January 13, 2017 with Mark Herdering. Grab your ticket today and I’ll see you there!

Hanging Out for a Living

Click to Register for the Hanging Out for a Living Workshop

Fun January Recognition Holidays | 15 Great Reasons to Send a Card and Gift

Today is Friday, which means I am spending my morning at Conroe Coffee helping clients create beautiful real paper greeting cards with their laptops or smart phones.  I look forward to Friday mornings because, let’s face it, greeting card senders are good people.

I love sending, and receiving cards.  This week I received New Years and Birthday cards from Angie, Joy, Babs, Steve and Becky.  Fun!

Back in 2014, I started curating lists of recognition holidays, reasons to send a cards gift, by month.  I wasn’t very consistent at it.  Lucky for me, SendOutCards, is now doing the curation!  Hopefully, since the hard part is being done for me, I’ll get better at remembering to share the list each month.

15 Great Reasons to Send Cards and Gifts in January 2016

  • January 8 to 14 is Letter Writing Week
  • January 1 is New Year’s Day.  It’s not too late to send out Happy New Year cards!
  • January 6 is Epiphany Day.
  • January 7 is Orthodox Christmas Day.
  • January 12 in National Pharmacists Day.
  • January 14 is Make your Dream Come True Day.  Oh the possibilities!
  • January 15 is my 46th birthday.  😀
  • January 18 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • January 19 is National Popcorn Day.  SendOutCards has some delicious popcorn you can send!
  • January 21 is National Hugging Day.  A greeting card is like a paper hug.  Really, it is.
  • January 22 is National Blonde Brownie Day.  I can’t make this stuff up.  Check out these yummy blond brownies.
  • January 23 is National Handwriting Day.  I hate my handwriting.  I think I’ll skip this day.
  • January 24 is Compliment Day.  Darling, you look marvelous!
  • January 26 is Spouse’s Day.  Yes, husbands and wives, you know what to do!
  • January 28 is Fun at Work Day.
Reasons to Send in January 2016

Reasons to Send in January 2016

15 Great Reasons to Send Cards and Gifts in January 2016 #blogboost Click To Tweet

Close More Sales in 2016

As a business practice, sending a random card and gift to a client, or potential client, can be lucrative.

Jay McHugh can attest to the effectiveness of relationship marketing with greeting cards.  He is one of New England’s Top 5 Real Estate agents.  Jay will be in The Woodlands, Texas sharing some of his secrets on January 22, 2016 from noon to 1 pm at Spring Creek BBQ.

If you live in the greater Houston area, I’d love for you to be my guest.  You do not need to be a real estate agent to benefit from Jay’s sales advice.

There is a $5 cover charge for SendOutCards distributors, guests are free.  Lunch sold separately.

Register at Eventbrite:  http://momgeek.com/sellmore2016

Close More Sales in 2016 with Relationship Marketing

Close More Sales in 2016 with Relationship Marketing

Matthew McConaughey Got It Right | How to Get More Testimonials and Happy Clients

If you are a long time follower of this blog, you know that my husband and I own a custom furniture business called ShaKa Studios.

We launched our website in 1998 and sell high-end niche furniture.

We do NOT have a SHOWROOM. NOR can our clients EVEN SEE the furniture before they buy!

You are probably asking yourself how that is possible.

The answer is simple. I ask for testimonials.

A Simple Way to Get More Testimonials

I use SendOutCards to send every client a thank you card and in it I simply write, “we’d love to see a photo of your new furniture in your home.”  I attach sea salt caramels and click send.  About 40% of our clients will email or text photos to us after they receive their card and caramels.


Sea Salt Caramels from SendOutCards

At this point you are probably wondering what Matthew McConaughey has to do with customer testimonials?  I’ll get to that in a minute.

This past summer,  I received a series of photos of a white cannonball bed in a home on Long Island, Bahamas with a note that simply said:

“And thank you for the awesome caramels…they’re gone now!!!!”

Here is one of the bed photos:

1830 Cannonball Bed by ShaKa Studios

1830 Cannonball Bed by ShaKa Studios

The caramels cost about $10 with shipping and now I have gorgeous photos of one of our handmade beds in a beach house on Long Island Bahamas. I can use these photos on our website, blog, and print advertisement. I’d say my return on investment is AWESOME!

The Magic is in the Cookies

I send a thank you card and gift using SendOutCards to each of our Shaka Studios clients. I do it because we truly appreciate our clients and want them to know so.

2 Dozen Cookies from SendOutCards

2 Dozen Cookies from SendOutCards

Received a note the other morning from a world-renowned interior design firm in Boston.  They ordered two custom red cannonball beds, so I sent them 2 dozen cookies:

Hi Shane and Kandas,

Thank you so much for the cookies and the sweet thank you card. It was a very nice surprise this morning. Hope you had a wonderful 4th and your summer is magical.
Thanks again,
Sarah and the W&S team

Sea Salt Caramel Tweet

Not only did Jamie Deaton leave a rave review about her custom bed, she also tweeted about her card and gift:

Speaking of Etsy

Here is an Etsy message from Mark, who ordered a custom TV console.  Notice his PS.


Brownie Points

SendOutCards works for all sorts of businesses. I showed Bryan, a member of my Tuesday networking group, how to send cards and gifts to his insurance clients. He posted this to my Facebook wall:


Gratitude Reciprocates

I promised I’d get to it…  In his Oscar acceptance speech, Matthew McConaughey said it best:

"It's a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates." - Matthew McConaughey

“It’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.” – Matthew McConaughey

Appreciate your customers and they will appreciate you back with more testimonials, repeat business and referrals.

Following Up with Leads | podcast episode 34


Show 34 Quick Guide


Kody Bateman’s tips for mastering relationships in business:

  • Make a list of everyone you know and put them in a contact manager.
  • Categorize your list into 3 categories: 1) contacts 2) prospects 3) customers
  • Always add people to your list and move them through the 3 categories.
  • Take detailed notes on all of your contacts.
  • Reach out in the spirit of RELATIONSHIP 80% of the time and in the spirit of MARKETING 20% of the time.
  • Build your personal brand with friendship, celebration and service.
  • Use the 4 methods of communication to reach out regularly to your lists.
  • Always be in the spirit of service. GIVE for the sake of GIVING and you will attract what you GIVE.
  • Listen more than you speak and always make it about them and how you can help them.

Action Steps for Following Up with Leads

Action Step 1: Every time you connect with someone, write down in your calendar, or your contact manager the date you are going to make your next connection and HOW – text, phone, email, greeting card, in person.

Action Step 2: Right now, think of 2 or 3 people who you can reach out in kindness towards today, and do it. Send them a referral, or a gift, or just a quick text message asking how they are doing and that you are thinking of them. Don’t try to sell them anything, make it all about them.

Action Step 3:  Join me for the Master Relationship Marketing Seminar in Houston, April 17-18, 2015.

Feedback Request

What would you do if you received this e-mail?

Subject: Congratulations Chamber Member since 2014

Dear Friend:

Do you need coverage for — LIFE=DISABILITY INCOME=LONG TERM CARE= and other areas of concern. Your FAMILY, your BUSINESS and YOU may need assistance reaching for

the options to meet or exceed expectations! Call or email me and I will assist you looking for THE AN$WER———-

With best regards, I am



Leave a comment and let me know how you would respond to Jim.

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Relationship Marketing on Facebook | podcast episode 33

Show 33 Quick Guide

  • What is relationship marketing and why do you need it?
  • My 3 rules for relationship marketing (see this post for the list).
  • Squeaky chair!
  • Mexican food is different in Texas than in California.
  • Doing business good ole boy style.
  • Waking up at 10 am.
  • You can do anything you want if you have the ability to build relationships and credibility.
  • Everybody is in sales.  Teachers sell the idea of learning to their students.  Chemists sell their research projects.  You are either selling yourself, an idea, or a product, or all three.
  • Relationship marketing on Facebook 101:  Facebook groups are a great place to cultivate relationships so don’t blow it by posting ads.
Facebook groups are a great place to cultivate relationships, don't blow it by posting ads. Click To Tweet

Feedback Request

  • Do you like this new podcast format or do you prefer interviews?
  • What is the average length of podcast that you normally listen to?
  • Do you listen on the website, iTunes, Stitcher, PlayerFM or some place else?

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Selling Art at Markets | Podcast Episode 29

Adam Rineer shows off his new painting from artist Kelly Walker

Adam Rineer shows off his new painting from artist Kelley Walker

Who Buys Art?

Today’s show is a little different. First the interviews (yes, with an s) were recorded on location at First Saturday Arts market in historic Houston heights.

First Saturday Arts Market has been going strong for 10 years. It’s a very family friendly venue, great food trucks, lots of artists and even better, lots of buyers.

That’s right, artists, there IS a buyer for your art out there.

While at the market, I picked the brains of three artists with knock your socks off work on display about what new artists need to know before showing at market.

  • Michelle Bowers, a self-taught fiber artist from Katy, Texas, offers practical advice.
  • Sergio Santos, a mixed media artist from Cypress, Texas, suggests seeking the counsel of other artists.
  • Ellie Teramoto, fine art photographer, also in Cypress, Texas, reminds us that it’s about the art.
Potter John Delafield Selling Art at Market

Potter John Delafield Selling Art at Market

Checklist for Artists New to Selling at Markets

John Delafield is a potter in the Houston area, whom I also met at First Saturday Arts Market. Unfortunately, I was not able to do an audio interview with John, but he did share this great check list for new artists:

  • Make your art.
  • Develop a line of products or a style of art.
  • Take it to a market and see what happens.
  • Pay attention to what other artists are doing.
  • Pay attention to what people are buying.
  • Of your products what draws people in and what sells?
  • What prices move your product the quickest?
  • You have to do what you are passionate about but you also have to sell it for what people are willing to pay. The only way to figure this out is to jump in and give it a try.
  • You also need to find the right outlets. If an art show isn’t for you, would a gallery be better? What about a craft show?
  • Take enough product as the average shopper wants to have a selection. If you only have a few things your shoppers might think they are looking at the leftovers. For a shopper, part of their experience is to meet the artist and maker of the art.
  • You have to have your best energy there. Be available but not intrusive to the buyer. Be ready for a quick friendly visit but let them move on when they are ready.
  • If you have trouble being friendly, take a friend along who can help you present your work
  • Create your pitch: Have a couple of standard things you can tell them about your work as a form of introduction.

If you have trouble figuring out what to say to potential clients, I offer a free 25-minute pitch workshop on demand that will help you craft a few points about your art.

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